It's been a year since changes were announced, but nothing's happened.
Safety campaigners have criticised the government for “unacceptable” delays in introducing tougher sentences for drivers who kill or seriously injure other road users.
Road safety charity Brake slammed the government’s “refusal to deliver justice” on the anniversary of an announcement that stricter penalties would be introduced.
On October 15, 2017, the Ministry of Justice confirmed that life sentences would be introduced for those who caused death by dangerous driving, or drivers who killed other road users while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The statement also said that a new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving would be created.
However, Brake says that despite repeated questioning in the House of Commons, the Ministry of Justice has not confirmed when the sentences will come into force.
In April, a written statement from Justice Minister Rory Stewart said the government would bring the penalties in along with other government safety recommendations following a review of cycle safety.
“We will bring forward proposals for changes in the law as soon as parliamentary time allows,” he said, in answer to a question from Bradford South MP Judith Cummins - a road safety campaigner. “These proposals will take account of, and incorporate, all of government’s proposals for safer roads, including those arising from the Department of Transport’s review of cycle safety.”
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said the delay in implementing the new sentences was causing bereaved families unnecessary suffering.
“It is completely unacceptable that these new tougher sentences have not yet been implemented,” he said. “The government needs to focus its attention on the issues which matter most to road safety - delivering justice for road crash victims and keeping dangerous drivers off our roads. The intentions behind the ongoing cycling offences review are sound but the prioritisation of this issue ahead of dangerous drivers is illogical and simply putting the cart before the horse.”
“Drivers who kill or seriously injure all too often receive lenient sentences. By delaying the introduction of new tougher sentences, the government is causing further suffering to families who have lost loved ones in road crashes. The government must implement these tougher sentences as first priority, delivering on their promise to road crash victims, and then initiate a review of the flawed legal framework for road justice.”
However, the Ministry of Justice told Motor1.com today (October 15, 2018) that the government would ensure the judiciary was given the power to deal with dangerous drivers “appropriately”.
“Killer drivers ruin lives and the government is committed to making sure that the courts have sufficient powers to deal with driving offences appropriately and proportionately,” said a spokesperson for the department.