Four in 10 want life sentences for those who kill through dangerous driving.
Two-thirds of British motorists want to see the maximum sentence for those who cause death by dangerous driving increased, new research shows. A study of 2,800 drivers found 66 percent of those quizzed thought the current 14-year maximum prison term to be insufficient for such a crime.
The survey commissioned by the RAC revealed that a quarter (25 percent) of drivers think the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving should be between 15 years and a life sentence, while 40 percent said courts should be able to hand out a life sentence if they deem it appropriate.
On the other hand, 16 percent said they thought the current jail term fitted the crime, and 18 percent said they were unsure as to whether the sentence should be changed.
The results come after figures showed police forces in England and Wales had recorded 555 cases of death or serious injury caused by dangerous driving in the year to March 2020. This was seven fewer cases than the previous 12 months, but since 2008 the general trend has been for the number to grow.
In July, former PM Theresa May introduced a Bill seeking to amend The Road Traffic Offenders Act, which currently dates from 1988, in a bod to increase courts’ abilities to issue much tougher sentences. The amendment has come to be known as the ‘Violet-Grace Law’, in memory of a four-year-old child who was killed by a motorist driving at more than 80 mph in a 30 mph zone three years ago. In 2017, the driver was jailed for nine years and four months, but the RAC says they may be released as early as next year. The Bill is set to undergo its second reading in the House of Commons today.
“Drivers we surveyed are crystal clear in their belief that the current maximum sentence that courts can hand down for causing death by dangerous driving is insufficient and doesn’t reflect just how devastating these crimes are,” said RAC safety spokesman Simon Williams. “While Britain might have some of the safest roads in Europe, it is an horrendous thought that each year more than 500 drivers in England and Wales are convicted of killing others as a result of their decision to drive dangerously.
“Permitting courts to issue much tougher sentences will send a strong message to motorists and will go some way towards reassuring families of victims killed in collisions that the law is on their side. The government announced its intention to introduce stronger sentences back in 2017, but sadly since then little progress has been made.
“That’s why this Bill is so important – we may still be some way off the Violet-Grace amendment being made, but many people up and down the country will be interested to see the progress that it makes in the hope that one day soon those convicted of these truly terrible crimes will have to spend much longer behind bars.”