Government crack-down on dangerous driving
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has said that a new offence of “causing serious injury by dangerous driving” will be introduced that will more than double the current maximum sentence for those behaving recklessly on the roads.
The move means that drivers could be jailed for up to five years, with the new offence, bridging the gap between the offence of causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a 14-year maximum prison term, and other dangerous driving cases, which have a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.
Mr Clarke said: ‘We have listened to the victims of dangerous drivers, their families, MPs, judges and road safety groups and their experiences have directly informed these changes.
‘Making our roads safer is a priority – five people died on our roads each day last year, so we need to do everything we can to further improve safety.’
The move has been greeted by road safety organisations, including Brake.
Ellen Booth, senior campaigns officer, said: ‘This new offence finally means that serious injury is recognised within the title of the offence, and this recognition is vitally important to victims and their families.
‘It also means that dangerous drivers who inflict serious injuries can expect to see higher sentences to better reflect the terrible trauma and injuries they have caused.’
RoSPA also welcomed the news. Head of road safety Kevin Clinton commented: ‘RoSPA has previously called for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving to be extended to cover causing serious injury, so we welcome the announcement of a new offence of “causing serious injury by dangerous driving”.’
He added: ‘To ensure this new law works as intended, it will be absolutely crucial to ensure that it is applied consistently in terms of prosecution and sentencing.
‘We also believe that the offences of causing death by careless driving and causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs should include causing serious injury.’
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) was also cautious about how the new law is applied. Spokesperson Vince Yearley commented: ‘Dangerous driving can result in anything from near misses to serious injuries. But the maximum jail term for dangerous driving must relate to the driving offence – not the consequences, however awful.’