Wednesday 28 January 2015
Brake, the road safety charity
Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South, has been given a prestigious national road safety award for her long-running campaign for tougher sentences for drivers who kill or seriously injure.
Susan was named as one of two Parliamentarians of the Year for 2014 by road safety charity Brake. She received the award at the charity’s annual reception at the Houses of Parliament last night (27 January), which was supported by Direct Line. The event marked the beginning of Brake’s 20th anniversary year.
Susan launched her campaign after the tragic death of nine-year-old Robert Gaunt, who was run over and killed in her constituency in 2009. The driver had no licence, no insurance and failed to stop when he hit Robert. He was given a 22 month prison sentence, but served just 10 months.
After being contacted by Robert Gaunt's family and other local residents outraged by the lack of justice following Robert's death, Susan determined to take up the call in Parliament. Since then, Susan has been in regular contact with the family and has written letters, worked in the media, tabled parliamentary questions and lobbied ministers with the aim of securing a review of penalties for serious driving offences.
In January 2014, Susan brought forward her Driving Offences (Review of Sentencing Guidelines) Bill, securing cross-party support. Introducing the bill, she called for the government to review maximum jail sentences for driving that causes death and serious injury, especially for unlicensed and hit and run drivers.
Although it did not receive a second reading, Susan’s bill set the tone for many other MPs campaigning on this issue in 2014, many of who have been spurred by similar experiences of injustice in their own community. Susan has been at the forefront of debates on driving offences and penalties throughout the year, helping to keep the issue high on the political agenda, and a wide-ranging review by the Ministry of Justice is now ongoing.
Susan also spoke out loudly on other important road safety issues in 2014, joining Brake in condemning the government’s decision to raise the speed limit for HGVs on single carriageways, which she described as “daft and dangerous”.
Brake campaigns for tougher sentences for drivers who kill and injure through its crackdown campaign, alongside higher penalties to deter risky driving behaviour, and increased traffic policing. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, #Crackdown.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “Susan’s campaign has been at the forefront of the fight to secure justice for families devastated by road death or serious injury. Risky, illegal driving frequently ends lives violently and needlessly, and inflicts appalling suffering on families and communities, which we bear witness to through our support services for crash victims. It’s crucial these offences are taken seriously and appropriately tough sentences are handed out, to deter risky driving and ensure justice is done. We applaud Susan’s work, and are very pleased to recognise her as one of our road safety Parliamentarians of the Year.”
Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South, said: “Brake is an outstanding campaigning organisation - and I am absolutely delighted to receive this award. However, this award also belongs to local campaigners and Overton-on-Dee Community Council who have worked with me throughout on this campaign. We remain determined in our quest to work with Brake to secure some measure of justice for the family of those people so tragically killed or seriously injured on our roads.”
Notes for editors:
Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.
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