Articles Tagged ‘penalty - Brake the road safety charity’

Charges and penalties

 

Key facts

 
  • The maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving is only five years, compared to 14 for causing death by dangerous driving;
  • In 2015, 188 drivers were charged with ‘causing death by dangerous driving’, while 201 were charged with ‘causing death by careless driving' [1];
  • About three in five people convicted of killing someone while driving are jailed,[2] with an average prison sentence of under four years [3];
  • In 2014, 1.02 million fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued for driving offences in England and Wales; three-quarters of the FPNs were for speed-limit offences, the highest proportion on record [4];
  • FPNs for careless driving (excluding handheld mobile phone use) increased by 11% between 2013 and 2014 [5]; 
  • In 2013, 240 fatal road crashes, and 1,100 crashes resulting in a serious injury, involved a drink-drive offence [6];
  • Nine in 10 people want criminal drivers who kill charged with manslaughter[7];
  • Brake is advocating a review of charges for causing death and serious injury on the road, to ensure drivers are charged with offences that adequately reflect the risk taken and harm caused.

Introduction

 
Drivers who kill, harm and endanger are often let off with grossly inadequate penalties, in some cases for inappropriately-termed charges.

In cases of death and serious injury on our roads, this often causes terrible insult and upset to bereaved and injured victims, leaving many feeling betrayed by our justice system.

What's more, low penalties for driving offences at all levels sends a message that these are minor infringements, rather than serious crimes that result in needless suffering and loss of life.

Brake is now calling on the government to immediately review guidelines for both charging and sentencing criminal drivers as part of its ‘Roads to Justice' campaign.

Current penalties and charges

A combination of inadequacies in the criminal justice system means many drivers who kill or seriously injure receive very low sentences and often no jail term at all. Government figures show only three in five people convicted of killing someone through risky driving are jailed, with an average sentence length of under four years.

The Ministry of Justice decides the offences drivers can be charged with and their maximum penalties. The Crown Prosecution Service then decides which charge to prosecute a driver for in court, often opting for a less serious charge because they are more likely to get a conviction. Judges then determine the length of sentence if the driver is convicted, working within maximum penalties and using guidelines from the Sentencing Council.

Brake believes major improvements are needed to charges, penalties and sentencing to ensure justice is done and there's a strong deterrent against illegal driving.

Read about:

'Careless' driving

When a driver causes a death, they might be prosecuted with 'causing death by dangerous driving' or 'causing death by careless driving'. When a driver causes a serious injury, they might be prosecuted with 'causing serious injury by dangerous driving' (a charge introduced in 2012) or simply 'careless driving'. 

The difference between 'careless' and 'dangerous' driving in the eyes of the law is slight and subjective: it's the difference between someone's driving falling below or well below what is expected of a careful and competent driver. But the difference in penalties between these charges is huge. The maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving is only five years, compared to 14 for causing death by dangerous driving. The maximum sentence for causing serious injury by dangerous driving is five years (if heard in a Crown Court), compared to a maximum penalty of a fine only for careless driving. Very often, prosecutors go for the lesser careless driving charges because they are easier to prove. 

In a study to mark the launch of Brake’s new ‘Roads to Justice’ campaign:

  • Nine in 10 (91%) of people questioned agreed that if someone causes a fatal crash when they get behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs, they should be charged with manslaughter;
  • Two-thirds (66%) of people surveyed believed that drivers who kill while breaking laws should be jailed for a minimum of 10 years;
  • 84% thought that drivers who kill while breaking the law should be charged with dangerous not careless driving;
  • One in five (19.8%) think that drivers who kill should serve a life sentence.[8]

Brake believes charges and penalties for causing death or serious injury should be overhauled. We need to get rid of the split between 'dangerous' and 'careless' so prosecutors aren't tempted to go for an easier won charge that carries inappropriately low penalties and deems driving that has killed or caused serious harm as merely 'careless', terminology that undermines the gravitas of the offence.

Ideally we should have one charge that can be brought against anyone whose driving causes death or serious injury. Judges could still use their discretion to sentence according to the level of risk taken, across the range of penalties up to the maximum of 14 years. At the very least, prosecuting guidelines should be improved so it is clear that if you were taking an illegal risk when you killed or seriously injured someone, such as speeding or using a phone, your driving is automatically deemed 'dangerous' in the eyes of the law.

Drink drivers

In 2013, 240 fatal road crashes, and 1,100 crashes resulting in a serious injury, involved a drink-drive offence [9]. Currently, drink-drivers face an automatic ban and up to six months in jail, but the penalties are the same no matter how many times they re-offend. Some drivers are also placed on a 'high risk offender' scheme if they are repeat drink-drivers or had a high level of alcohol in their blood. Under this scheme drivers have to undergo tests to show they are not alcohol dependent before getting their licence back.

But the current system to tackle repeat drink-driving isn't working: one in eight drink-drivers do it again, and as many as three in 10 'high risk offenders' reoffend. We need the government to get tough with repeat drink-drivers by giving judges the power to hand out higher sentences (potentially up to two years) to repeat drink-drivers. And we need alcohol interlocks [10] fitted in the vehicles of high-risk offenders who are given back their licence, to help prevent reoffending.

Hit-and-run drivers 

If you hit and kill someone when behind the wheel and you're found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could face up to 14 years in jail. However, if you flee the scene and wait to sober up, you'll most likely be charged with 'hit and run' and face a maximum sentence of six months. We need to end the incentive for drink- and drug-drivers to flee the scene to sober up and ensure hit-and-run drivers who kill or seriously injure face the same penalties as other drivers who inflict such destruction. There must be an assumption that if they fled the scene, they caused the crash through dangerous driving.

Unlicensed drivers

Unlicensed or uninsured drivers have no right to be on roads in the first place. Yet unlicensed and uninsured drivers who kill will only receive the maximum penalty (10 years) if it can be proven in court that they were driving ‘dangerously’. If this cannot be proven, they face a maximum sentence of only two years for ‘causing death by driving when unlicensed or uninsured [11].

Unlicensed driving is often closely linked to uninsured driving. This means that those who kill or injure without a licence often drive an uninsured vehicle and those who are injured or who have lost loved ones receive limited pay out. This is unfair and an additional strain placed on victims, and Brake urges the government to crack down on unlicensed and uninsured drivers.

Brake believes an unlicensed or uninsured driver is driving dangerously simply by getting behind the wheel. If an unlicensed or uninsured driver kills or seriously injures someone, they should face the same maximum penalties as those charged with dangerous driving. 

Sentencing guidelines

Judges decide an offender's jail term based on guidelines from the Sentencing Council. Current guidelines frequently result in low sentences being handed down; they desperately need to be changed.

Driving bans

Brake believes drivers who kill and seriously injure should be taken off the road once they are charged, as a condition of bail. Prosecutions often take months to come to court [12]. In many cases the driver charged is able to continue driving during this time, potentially putting others in danger, and often in the same community where the crash took place, causing further distress to 

Fines as a deterrent

In 2014, there were 1.02 million fixed penalty notices issued for driving offences in England and Wales. This was an 11% fall on the number issued in 2013, continuing a year-on-year downward trend. Nearly three-quarters of fines were issued for speeding offences [13].

Brake believes the £100 fixed penalty fine for driving offences sends a dangerous message that offences like speeding and phone use at the wheel, which can and do lead to death and injury, are not real crimes, and important safety laws need not be taken seriously. Research shows that higher fines pose a stronger deterrent against law-breaking [14], so raising the fixed penalty to £500-£1,000 should encourage wider compliance with vital laws that are in place to protect people. 

Penalty points

The penalty-points system is designed to protect the public from dangerous repeat offenders, but the system is being undermined. Thousands of drivers with 12 points or more have been allowed to retain their licence [15]. Many drivers who have reached 12 points have been using a loophole to keep their licence by claiming it would cause 'exceptional hardship' if they were banned. This loophole needs closing urgently: driving is a privilege, not a right; and if that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it should be revocable. Drivers who reach 12 points should be automatically disqualified to protect themselves and others.

Sentencing disqualified drivers

Drivers who are disqualified have proven they are willing to take life-threatening risks. Disqualified drivers who ignore their ban are likely to pose a serious danger.

In April 2015, the maximum sentence for disqualified drivers who kill was increased from two years to 10 years, and a new offence of ‘causing serious injury by driving while disqualified’ was introduced, with a maximum sentence of four years. This represents important progress, but Brake believes people who repeatedly drive while disqualified should face serious consequences, yet they currently only face a further ban and up to six months in jail no matter how many times they are caught.

We need the government to get tough with these serial offenders, by giving judges the power to hand out higher sentences, potentially up to two years, if someone is caught driving while banned repeatedly. Drivers who kill while disqualified should be prosecuted to the same degree as dangerous drivers who who kill.

Driver re-training courses

Driver re-training courses, often offered as a once-only alternative to a fixed penalty notice for speeding and some other road offences, may help improve attitudes to safe driving for some. However, drivers are incentivised to attend by escaping penalty points, meaning repeat offenders may avoid sanction under the points system. Drivers caught for different offences, such as speeding, mobile phone use and careless driving, can go on multiple courses and avoid receiving points on their licence as long as they don't attended the same course twice. Brake argues it would be better to provide an incentive of a reduced fine to attend courses, so drivers who take risks repeatedly are still sanctioned under the points system. This would be possible if the fixed penalty notice was increased to £500-£1,000 as Brake advocates.


End notes:

[1] Criminal justice system statistics quarterly: December 2015, Ministry of Justice, 2016
[2] Criminal justice system statistics quarterly: December 2015, Ministry of Justice, 2016
[3] Motoring data tool: 2015, Department for Transport, 2015
[4]Police powers and procedures in England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2015: Statistical Bulletin, Home Office, 2015
[5] Police powers and procedures in England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2015: Statistical Bulletin, Home Office, 2015
[6] Prof Richard Allsop, Saving lives by lowering the drink-drive limit, 2015
[7] Brake Poll: 2015-16, Brake
[8] Brake Poll: 2015-16, Brake
[9] Prof Richard Allsop, Saving lives by lowering the drink-drive limit, 2015
[10] Alcohol interlocks are vehicle immobilisers that are activated if a driver is unable to pass a breath test, required to start the engine. They can be linked to a camera to prevent drivers asking someone else to take the test for them.
[11] Driving offences involving death, the Sentencing Council of England and Wales
[12] Average time from offence to completion of trial for an indictable driving offence, such as causing death by dangerous or careless driving, is 120 days and only 47% of cases are completed at the first given trial date. Judicial and court statistics 2010, Ministry of Justice, 2011
[13] Police powers and procedures in England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2015: Statistical Bulletin, Home Office, 2015
[14] Calviño, N. "Public Enforcement in the EU: Deterrent Effect and Proportionality of Fines" European Competition Law Annual 2006: Enforcement of Prohibition of Cartels, 2006
[15]Charity calls for reform to get law-breaking drivers off our roads - 10,000 drivers with 12 points are still driving, Brake, 2011.


                        

Charges and penalties for drivers who kill, maim and endanger

This page outlines some of the most commonly-brought criminal charges and penalties for traffic offences in the UK; and Brake’s concerns about the inadequacy of many of them.

Read about support for road crash victims.

Careless Driving (Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988)

This charge can be brought when driving 'fell below the standard of a careful and competent driver'. It is a trivial charge in its terminology, and in sentences handed out: usually a small fine in a Magistrates Court. Yet this charge is currently often brought in cases of serious injury and when driving is clearly bad, often because prosecutors feel there is a good chance of conviction, compared with bringing a more serious charge. Rather than being prosecuted for "careless" driving, those who drive badly should be prosecuted for dangerous driving, with a range of possible penalties depending on the level of danger posed. If a driver's bad driving resulted in injury or death, they should be charged with an offence that explicitly references that injury or death (see below).

Causing Death by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving (Section 2B of the Road Traffic Act 1988, amended by the Road Safety Act 2006, s. 20)

This charge can be brought when a driver causes a death because their driving 'fell below the standard expected of a careful and competent driver'. It was introduced after concerns were raised about the lack of mention of death in the Careless Driving charge. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and an unlimited fine, but in reality, and as predicted by Brake prior to this charge's introduction, which we opposed, much lower penalties are being imposed, and even the maximum is only just over a third that for 'Causing Death by Dangerous Driving'. Brake does not support this charge: it enables drivers who have caused enormous suffering to be let off with a paltry penalty. The word 'careless' is wholly inappropriate in the context of road deaths caused by bad driving, and insulting to bereaved families, as reported to Brake by families we work with through our support work. Brake believes that cases currently dealt with by Death by Careless Driving should be dealt with by this charge dealt with using the charge Causing Death by Dangerous Driving, with a variety of sentencing powers for judges according to seriousness of the offence.

CASE STUDY: On 31.03.10, The Star newspaper in Sheffield reported two cases of drivers let off for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving for killing by driving far too fast on bends. In the first case, Christopher Deaken-Frith admitted driving 'much too fast' down a Sheffield hill in frosty weather, ending the lives of his two passengers Liam Oliver and Sarah Kate O'Melia. Police estimated a driver would have been able to negotiate the bend 'with ease' if driving at less than 48mph. The speed limit was 30mph. Relatives stormed out of court when Deaken-Frith walked free with a suspended sentence for Causing Death by Careless Driving. In the second case, Nicholas Boothman crashed on a bend that he took at an estimated 50mph-70mph despite wet conditions and a sign warning drivers to take the bend at no more than 40mph. He killed passenger Robert Shaw, and seriously injured passenger Daniel Hallas, who had to have part of his leg amputated. He too walked free with a suspended sentence for Causing Death by Careless Driving.

Dangerous Driving (Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, amended 1991)

This charge can be brought when driving fell far below the standard expected of a careful and competent driving, where no death occurred. It is not often brought (the charge of Careless Driving being more common). Dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of two years. This is currently sometimes brought when someone is seriously injured by dangerous driving, although this should cease with the introduction of Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving, as below. However, Brake believes cases currently prosecuted under Careless Driving should be dealt with under this charge instead, for reasons explained above, and the maximum penalty for Dangerous Driving should be higher, in line with the fact that dangerous driving can, and often does, result in death. It should be at least five years, with a variety of sentences handed out up to the maximum, according to the seriousness of the offence.

Causing Death by Dangerous Driving (Section 1 Road Traffic Act 1988, amended 1991) and Causing Death by Careless Driving under the influence of drink or drugs (section 3A Road Traffic Act)

The charge of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving is a much more serious charge than Causing Death by Careless Driving, with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, but its definition differs in only one word: it can be brought when driving 'fell far below the standard expected of a careful and competent driver'. A similar charge of Causing Death by Careless Driving when under the Influence of Drink or Drugs carries the same maximum penalty. These charges should be brought when there are provable aggravating factors, such as excessive speeding above the limit, overtaking on a blind bend, or driving over the legal limit for alcohol. In most cases, however, the sentence meted out by the courts is much lower than the maximum, unless there are many aggravating factors and multiple deaths. In addition, the tiny difference in definition between this charge and the Charge of Death by Careless Driving means in many cases the more serious charges are not brought, and the lesser charge is brought instead, with its greater chance of conviction, but far lower penalties.

CASE STUDY: A drink driver who killed his schoolboy passenger in an 80mph crash after saying 'I'm wasted' was jailed for only four years, a third of the maximum. Ashley Ogden, 19, gave a lift to 15-year-old Daniel McHugh and a friend. He swerved round a police recovery lorry and shouted 'Come on - chase on!' He later lost control and smashed into a tree and bus stop, killing Daniel. The other passenger suffered a double fracture to his leg, a collapsed lung and broken ribs. Ogden, of Leigh, Greater Manchester, did not have a full licence and was one-and-a-half times over the drink-drive limit when tested two hours after the crash. He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol and failing to comply with his provisional licence terms. (Daily Mirror, 15 November 2005)

Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving

The government announcement of a new charge of Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving was welcomed by Brake. But Brake remains concerned that families who suffer life-changing serious injury at the hands of a dangerous driver will not receive justice, given the inadequate five year maximum penalty, and given that it will still be necessary to demonstrate driving was 'dangerous' according to the legal definition. In reality, offenders convicted of this are highly unlikely to receive close to the full five years, but even if they do, this does not reflect the life-long suffering of the most serious and debilitating injuries that innocent victims of crashes may suffer, such as permanent brain damage, loss of limbs or paralysis. These injuries destroy lives and devastate families, with many victims needing round-the-clock care. Brake believes this new charge should carry a maximum penalty of 14 years, in line with that for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving. Brake is also concerned drivers who cause serious injury may continue to be let off with the lesser charge of careless driving (as is the case at present) because it is easier to make this charge stick.

Redefining dangerous driving

As outlined above, Brake takes great issue with the existence and definition of careless driving charges, especially in relation to cases where a death or serious injury has occurred or could easily have occurred. 'Careless' is an inappropriate and offensive term to use for bad driving, particularly where it has resulted in horrendous suffering. Driving that is bad (especially if it has already resulted in injury or death or could easily have done so) is dangerous.

Brake believes cases prosecuted under careless driving charges should instead be prosecuted under the charges of Dangerous Driving, Causing Death by Dangerous Driving, and Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving, with a full range of penalties handed out up to the maximum (which should be at least five, 14 and 14 years in prison respectively, all with an unlimited fine), according to the seriousness of the offence (also see section below on sentencing).

At the same time, Brake advocates a redefinition of 'dangerous driving' so these charges may be brought when anyone is found to be driving in a way not in accordance with road safety laws or the Highway Code. This definition is far less subjective and would make it clear to drivers that if they do not driving in accordance with legal requirements, they are posing a danger, and therefore may face these serious charges.

Hit and run drivers

There needs to be a new charge of 'failing to stop following a fatal or serious injury crash'. This would not have any requirement to prove the driver who failed to stop caused the crash, as there can be an assumption that if they fled, they caused it. This is necessary because, at present, British law acts as an incentive for the worst law-breaking drivers to flee a crash if they kill someone. If a drink or drug driver kills someone and remains at the scene, they are likely to be tested for alcohol or drugs, prosecuted for 'causing death by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs', and face up to 14 years' imprisonment. But if they run away and sober up, and there was no other evidence of careless or dangerous driving, they can only be prosecuted for the minor offence of 'failing to stop or report an accident' which carries a paltry maximum sentence of six months. If someone steals a car, kills someone and remains at the scene, they will be identified by the police as driving a stolen car. They can be prosecuted for 'aggravated vehicle taking' and face a maximum 14 years' imprisonment. Much better to flee, ditch the car, and hope never to be identified. Drivers who hit and run are despicable: to escape the law, they leave behind suffering and dying victims in need of urgent medical attention. The law must be changed to remove this incentive to flee.

Causing Death by Driving Unlicensed, Disqualified or Uninsured

This charge can be brought when a driver causes a death by driving a vehicle on a road while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured. The maximum penalty is a paltry sentence of two years and unlimited fine. This is in stark contrast to laws against illegal firearms. Carrying an illegal firearm, and not even using it, carries a minimum mandatory five year prison sentence, compared with a maximum of two years for driving illegally and killing. Brake supports this charge but believes the maximum sentence should be in line with that for Causing Death by Dangerous Driving, 14 years. The charge should also include serious injuries.

Driving licence suspension in the run up to trial

Brake believes drivers who kill and maim should be taken off the road once they are charged, as a condition of bail. Prosecutions often take many months to come to court [1], and in many cases the driver charged with causing the crash is able to continue driving, potentially putting other innocent road users in danger, and often in the same community where they caused carnage. This can be incredibly offensive and upsetting to bereaved families and people injured by the driver, but it also means that other people are being put at risk.

If you are a teacher being investigated for misconduct, you are immediately suspended from teaching in school to protect pupils. If you are a doctor suspected of malpractice, you are immediately suspended from practising medicine to ensure no patients are harmed. Yet if you are charged with killing someone because of your bad driving, you are allowed to keep driving until you are sentenced in court, despite the fact that nine in 10 drivers (89%) charged with indictable motoring offences, such as causing death by driving, are convicted [2].

Brake is backing a campaign by Rebecca Still, aged 13, who wants the government to change the law so driving licences are automatically suspended, as a condition of bail, in cases involving death by dangerous or careless driving, or drink driving cases where the driver had at least twice the legal alcohol limit in their blood.

Rebecca's brother Jamie Still, 16, was knocked down and killed on New Year's Eve 2010 by a young driver who was twice the legal alcohol limit and speeding at 50mph in a 30mph limit. The driver was allowed to continue driving around in the same community until nine months later when he was convicted. Rebecca set up a petition to get the law changed, which has already had thousands of signatures. She has received support from Brake and her MP Greg Mulholland, as well her mum and grandparents who have rallied round to help make her campaign a success. Visit www.jamiestillcampaign.co.uk.

Fixed penalties and penalty points

Brake argues that penalties awarded for less serious and more widespread driving offences should be much stronger, to provide a better deterrent against risky behaviour at the wheel. The fixed penalty for driving offences, including speeding and mobile phone use, is currently £100 plus three penalty points. Brake believes this is woefully inadequate, given these crimes can and do lead to terrible crashes, injury and death. Minor crimes that do not pose a direct threat to human life, like littering and smoking in a public place, can be met with a fine of £1,000+. A £100 penalty for driving offences sends out a dangerous message that offences like speeding and phone use at the wheel are not real crimes, and important safety laws need not be taken seriously. Brake argues a fixed penalty of £500-£1,000 would have a significant effect on compliance with these laws, which are in place to protect and safeguard the public.

Brake is also desperately concerned the penalty points system is not working as a way to protect the public from dangerous repeat offenders who show disregard for the law. Brake recently revealed 40% of drivers who have reached 12 points are not disqualified, due to a loophole allowing drivers to keep their licence in 'exceptional circumstances'. This loophole should be closed urgently: those who reach 12 points have been given ample opportunity to comply with the law, and should be automatically disqualified to protect themselves and others.

Low sentences

Bereaved and seriously injured families supported by Brake often say they feel sentences handed to drivers who have caused their suffering are inadequate and this causes additional distress. As well as calling for reform to charges and penalties as above, Brake is concerned that sentencing for driving offences is unduly lenient. To reduce the horrifying frequency of road deaths and injuries, the criminal justice system should send drivers the message that traffic offences are not minor – particularly when they result in tragic loss of a life or debilitating injury. Yet it is extremely rare to see higher range sentences given out; often sentences are at the lower end. Brake believes this is because 'traffic offences' are seen as less serious than other crimes, even when they have resulted in a death or serious injury. The full range of sentences should be handed out, up to and including the maximum in the most serious cases.

The Ministry of Justice reports on motoring offences and sentence lengths. In 2006 there were 381 convictions in England and Wales for serious driving charges for causing death, but only 58 resulted in imprisonment of more than five years (and most of these offenders will be released much earlier) (Motoring Offences and Breath Test Statistics England and Wales 2006). This may sound bad enough, but these figures don't include the many cases of traffic offences resulting in death and injury that were dealt with through the charge of careless or dangerous driving - with significantly lower penalties including, in the case of careless driving, a maximum penalty of a fine. They also don't include the cases that result in no charge at all - this includes cases of pedestrians being hit by cars at significant speeds, often in hit and runs, when the offender was never found or there were no witnesses to prove a traffic offence. A 2002 report by the CPS Inspectorate (A report on the thematic review of the advice, conduct and prosecution of road traffic offences involving fatalities in England and Wales (HMCPSI, 2002)) noted that there was "some evidence of inconsistency of approach particularly in relation to the level of charge in those cases where there was a prosecution. This related mainly to cases where a lesser charge such as careless driving was preferred rather than causing death by dangerous driving". The report made a number of recommendations for improving the prosecution following a death on the road. They included:

  • appointing an experienced prosecutor to receive specialist training in driving offences in each Crown Prosecution Service area, who could also act as first point of contact with the police in these cases;
  • instructing counsel with appropriate experience and expertise to prosecute road death cases in the Crown Court;
  • ensuring that all prosecutors are aware of guidance given in relation to the timing of inquests and summary criminal proceedings;
  • improving the identification and flagging of files by the police and CPS, to improve case management;
  • requesting further information and providing advice to the police in a timely manner;
  • monitoring prosecutions for different offences, outcomes and review decisions;
  • providing revised guidance to CPS prosecutors and reviewing the Driving Offences Charging Standard.

A 2002 report by the transport research agency TRL (Pearce, L, Dangerous driving and the law, Road Safety Research Report no 26 (DTLR, 2002)) confirmed that the 1991 Road Traffic Act, which was designed to reduce the difficulties with the charges of 'careless driving' (where a death had resulted), 'dangerous driving', and 'death by dangerous driving', had not been entirely effective. In the cases it analysed in the report, TRL noted that prosecutors often preferred a charge of 'careless driving' to 'death by dangerous driving' in cases where it could be argued that the latter was more appropriate. It also noted that maximum penalties are rarely used in 'dangerous driving' cases, stating that "cases which appear to be very serious often receive less than half of the maximum sentence." Brake wants the Government to set national standards requiring judges and magistrates to receive appropriate training and advice on traffic offences, including discussion of case studies, to encourage them to implement appropriately tough charges and penalties.

[1] Average time from offence to completion of trial for an indictable motoring offense, such as causing death by dangerous or careless driving, is 120 days and only 47% of cases are completed at the first given trial date. Judicial and court statistics 2010, Ministry of Justice, 2011
[2] Criminal Justice Statistics Quarterly Update to September 2011, Ministry of Justice , 2012

 

 

Close penalty point loophole for learner drivers, say road safety charity

News from Brake
Wednesday 7th August 2019     
            
Road safety campaigners, Brake, are calling for a reduction in the number of penalty points a learner driver can hold before being disqualified, as an investigation has found more than 42,000 provisional licence holders on the roads with six or more penalty points.
 
The data, obtained by Brake under a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA, revealed that, as of April 2019, 66,575 learner drivers held endorsements on their licence. Of these, 42,883 held six or more points, 1,005 held 12 or more points and the highest number of points held by one learner driver was 35. 
 
Under the New Drivers Act, drivers who get six or more penalty points within two years of passing their test have their licence revoked. If they wish to drive again, they are required to apply and pay for a new provisional licence and pass both theory and practical parts of the driving or riding test. Rules for provisional licence holders, however, allow them to hold up to 11 active points on their licence while receiving no penalty, permitting them to take a driving test, obtain a full licence and drive freely on the roads. Once they have passed their test, they would only have their licence revoked if they receive further penalty points.
 
Statistics from the UK’s Department for Transport show that a learner or inexperienced driver/rider was a contributory factor to the incident in 3% of deaths and 5% of serious injuries on the roads, in 2017. [1]
 
Road safety charity, Brake, are calling for learner drivers who get six or more points to have to reapply for their licence, and have urged the Government to consult on the viability of imposing bans.
 
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:
 
“How can it be right that learner drivers with a track record of committing multiple driving offences are still free to obtain a full licence and drive on our roads? Newly qualified drivers face losing their licence if they commit multiple driving offences so surely at least the same standards should apply to learner drivers too? We are calling on the Government to look into this with a view to reduce the number of penalty points a learner driver can get before losing their licence and prevent them from taking a driving test with multiple points on their provisional licence.”
 
[ENDS]
 
Notes to editors:
 
About Brake
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, 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.
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.

Crackdown

CAMCrackdownhashRoad deaths and injuries cause utter devastation to families and communities. Yet drivers who kill, harm and endanger are often let off with grossly inadequate penalties, compounding the suffering of bereaved and injured victims and leaving many feeling betrayed by the justice system. Almost half of drivers convicted of killing are not jailed; only one in seven is sentenced to five years or more.

Crimes that can and do lead to death and injury – like speeding and mobile phone use at the wheel – can be effectively deterred through strong enforcement and penalties. Yet traffic policing numbers are decreasing, and penalties for these crimes remain woefully low.

Get the facts on criminal charges following a road death or serious injury.

What needs to be done?

We call for tougher charges and penalties for driving offences, to appropriately reflect the suffering caused, provide desperately needed justice for victim families, and deter risky driving behaviour.

In the case of deaths or injuries, this means: revised charges to stop drivers being let off on lesser 'careless' driving charges; much stiffer penalties for hit and run and disqualified drivers; and stronger sentencing guidelines, allowing judges to hand out maximum sentences in the most serious cases.

We also need tougher penalties for drivers who endanger through risky driving behaviour – such as speeding and mobile phone use – to send a message that these are serious crimes, deter risky drivers and protect the public. Law-breaking drivers must also know they will be caught, which means we need more dedicated traffic police to stop them.

Find out more about our calls on charges and penalties and UK traffic policing levels.

What can I do?

Find out what you can do to help our other campaigns.

Campaign news

Brake welcomes tougher sentencing for drivers who kill, 22/05/2015
Brake backs police plea for lower drink drive limit, calls for greater priority for roads policing, 19/05/2015
Make traffic policing a priority, says charity, as half of drivers flout traffic laws, 28/04/2015
Brake hails justice for victims of disqualified drivers as tougher sentences come into effect, 13/04/2015
MP wins national road safety award for campaign for justice for victims of criminal driving, 27/03/2015
Better justice for road crime victims: Brake supports launch of MP's manifesto for change, 20/03/2015
Charity urges CPS to take on recommendations as inspectors find victims being failed, 04/02/2015
Brake urges investment in traffic police in response to falling numbers and rising casualties, 09/02/2015
Brake joins call for cross-border enforcement to save lives on UK roads, 18/07/2014
Brake welcomes increase in fines for motorway speeding and phone use at the wheel, 11/06/2014
Government figures show ongoing lack of justice following road deaths and injuries, 27/05/2014
MP wins national award for campaign for tougher sentences for banned drivers who kill, 14/05/2014
Brake welcomes tougher penalties for unlicensed drivers who kill and injure, 06/05/2014
This isn't justice: four in five support tougher penalties for killer drivers, 21/03/2014
Clwyd South MP wins national road safety award for tougher sentences for drivers who kill, 10/02/2014
Two in three drivers admit breaking traffic laws in Brake and Direct Line survey, 09/10/2013
Risky law-breaking by drivers won't be tolerated, as new fixed penalty fines come into force, 16/08/2013
Traffic police cuts could mean deadly, drunk and drugged drivers get away with it, 09/07/2013
Charity welcomes fixed penalty for careless driving, but calls for higher fines, 05/06/2013
Deadly drivers beware: boost for Justice for Jamie campaign, 20/03/2013
Greg Mulholland MP named Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Year, 17/01/2013
Drivers demand tougher justice for traffic offenders, 20/09/2012
Karl McCartney MP wins road safety award for campaign to tackle uninsured driving, 06/02/2012
Huge roads policing cuts put public at risk, warns charity, 23/01/2012
Karl Turner MP wins Brake and Direct Line annual national campaigner award, 13/01/2012
Brake responds to the Labour Party Justice review, 12/01/2012
MP wins Brake award for campaign for justice for serious injury victims, 31/10/2011
Brake calls for drivers with 12 points to be banned, revealing 10,000 are still driving, 19/10/2011
Brake welcomes new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, 07/10/2011
Brake responds to consultation on causing death by driving offences, 19/04/2007
Brake responds to CPS consultation on prosecuting bad driving, 16/03/2007

Foreign drivers

A survey carried out in 2003 found that the number of foreign registered heavy goods vehicles travelling to Great Britain had increased almost two-and-a-half times (232%) over the last 10 years. [1] In the UK, there are up to 10,000 foreign vehicles working every day. [2]

However, in order to drive in the UK, foreign drivers do not need to undergo any additional training or testing on how to drive safely on our roads - this could be putting a huge number of our country’s road users at risk.

THE RULES

Drivers from EC countries
If a driver holds a valid Community licence and is visiting Great Britain, they can drive any vehicle for as long as their licence remains valid. The appropriate full entitlement for the vehicle they wish to drive must be shown on their licence.

If a foreign driver decides to remain in Great Britain, their Community licence will remain valid in this country for up to 5 years, depending on age and licence type.

If someone wants to take a GB driving test, they must normally be resident in Great Britain.

Drivers from Northern Ireland
A full Northern Ireland driving licence can be exchanged for a full GB licence or can be used in Great Britain until it runs out.

Drivers from Gibraltar and Designated Countries. Designated countries include Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.

If a driver is resident outside the UK but is temporarily in this country and holds full ordinary entitlement, they can drive any category of vehicle (up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to 8 passenger seats) as shown on their licence, for up to 12 months from the date they last entered the UK. If they also hold full entitlement to drive large lorries or buses they are only allowed to drive large vehicles registered outside GB that they have driven into the country.

Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man. Ordinary licence holders: Provided their ordinary licence remains valid, a driver can drive any category of vehicle shown on their licence for 12 months.

Vocational licence holders: A driver visiting Great Britain who holds a vocational licence issue in Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man, can drive British registered, or vehicles registered outside GB that they have driven into the country for up to 12 months.

All other countries. Visitors may drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes and with up to 8 passenger seats provided their full licence or driving permit remains valid for up to 12 months from the date of entering the United Kingdom. However, they may only drive large vehicles which have been registered outside GB and which have been driven into the country. [3]

If they remain in the country as a resident they must take a test *before *the first 12 months are up, otherwise they must stop driving until they pass a GB test.

For more detailed information on driving rules for visitors and new residents, click here.

FINES AND PENALTIES FOR FOREIGN DRIVERS

Currently it is not possible to give foreign drivers (non-GB licence holders) an endorseable fixed penalty notice. Also, if a foreign driver is summonsed and issued with a non-endorseable fixed penalty notice, there is no way of ensuring that they do not simply evade punishment by leaving the country. [4]

Research shows that foreign drivers are at least as likely to offend as UK drivers are. VOSA statistics show that drivers’ hours offences are detected in 3.7% of UK drivers, but this rises to 12.8% for overseas drivers. However, they cannot, in practice be prosecuted. The Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990 makes it clear that failure to comply with a warrant served at an overseas address does not constitute contempt of court nor is it a ground for issuing a warrant to secure the attendance of the person in question. [5]

However, a number of proposals have been made under the Road Safety Bill, which is currently going through Parliament. These include:

A new system of endorsement. The European Commission has upheld a complaint about the fixed penalty system and the Government is therefore obliged to make the necessary changes to put an end to the discrimination. It is intended to introduce an alternative system in two ways. The first stage will introduce the system of endorsement of driving records for unlicensed and foreign drivers and allow them to be given fixed penalty notices. The second stage will introduce this new system of endorsement of driving records for all drivers with the result that counterparts (issued to drivers in Great Britain) will no longer have any function. [6]

A deposit scheme. The deposit scheme will be similar to arrangements which already exist in many EU countries and will ensure parity of treatment and penalties between UK and non-UK resident offenders. The deposit would be immediately payable at the roadside. At the moment it is proposed that it would be equal to the sum which would have been payable if it had been a fixed penalty or, in more serious cases which warrant prosecution, the sum of the likely court fine. Drivers will still be able to contest the charge in court and if the court decides in their favour, the deposit would be returned. [7]

Enable disclosure of driver and vehicle data to foreign authorities. Current legislation does not provide for the disclosure of driver and vehicle registration information to foreign registrars. The Bill will provide statutory authority for the DVLA in Great Britain and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland to disclose driver licensing and vehicle registration information to their foreign counterparts. This will help bring about the reduction in the import/export of stolen and/or illegally tampered with vehicles and to reduce the number of drivers ‘banned’ in other countries from driving in the UK. [8]

Case study - unpaid parking tickets in London. Foreign drivers owe almost £13m in unpaid parking tickers issued in London in 2004, according to a survey by the Association of London Government (ALG). Of the 330,000 penalty notices served to owners of foreign-registered vehicles, only 4.5% could be traced. Worst offenders were drivers registered in France, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Lithuania. [9]

Case study - foreign drivers not fined for speeding. In 2004, 1,148 foreign drivers who were caught breaking the speed limit on camera escaped without penalty. UK drivers are traced through the DVLA database and fined within the 14-day notice period, but police said there was no easy way to trace foreign drivers. [10]

Case study - six killed in crash. A minibus driver, his four passengers and a lorry driver were all killed in a crash on the A52 near Grantham in February 2006. The occupants of the minibus were all foreign nationals, thought to be from Hungary and Portugal. Police believe the crash happened when the minibus was overtaking two lorries. [11]

Case study - foreign vehicle in serious collision. A foreign registered goods lorry was involved in a collision with a car on the M4, which left a man critically ill with a spinal injury. The man’s wife suffered severe head injuries after being thrown from the Fiat, which rolled several times before landing on the hard shoulder. A man was arrested following the incident. [12]

Case study - lorry sheds its load on A14. A section of the A14 in Northamptonshire was closed after a foreign-registered lorry crashed into barriers and shed its load of floor tiles. Several tonnes of the ceramic tiles fell from the raised carriageway on to the country road below. [13]

Depending on the country they are from, foreign drivers may not be familiar with:

  • Driving on the left-hand side
  • Our speed limits
  • Britain’s road signs - there could also be confusion between imperial and metric signs (such as speed limits or bridge heights) - Give-way rules (for example, these are quite different in New Zealand)
  • Mobile phone laws
  • Tacograph laws (this may mean drivers are excessively tired, having driven longer hours than they should have)

There are also problems relating to the actual vehicles driven by foreign drivers: - Maintenance - different countries have different standards of vehicle road-worthiness and this means that foreign vehicles with major faults could be travelling on our roads. - A study of work-related road crashes found that drivers of foreign-registered left-hand drive trucks had a particular problem with being unable to see other drivers in their blind spots. [14]

RECOMMENDATIONS

Brake feels that it is outrageous that foreign drivers are able to commit offences and not be prosecuted for them. The current policy allows drivers from other countries to commit crimes on our roads and get away with it. This is putting our country’s road users at risk. The changes proposed in the Road Safety Bill will hopefully put an end to this and mean that anyone driving dangerously on our roads will be punished for doing so.

However, we still need to see a change in policy which ensures that foreign drivers are aware of the rules of our roads, and must undergo tests to demonstrate that they are able to drive safely. If they fail to do so, they should be prosecuted in the same way as British nationals are, and charged, fined or banned accordingly. It is vital that nobody is allowed to get away with endangering the lives of road users in our country.

For more information:
Department for Transport
DVSA
DVLA
Freight Transport Association
Road Haulage Association
The Burns Freight Taxes Inquiry


[1] Survey of Foreign Vehicle Activity in GB ? 2003, (Department for Transport, 2003)
[2] £3bn Free Ride for Foreign Trucks on UK Roads, (Road Haulage Association, 31 October 2005)
[3] Driving in Great Britain As a Visitor, (DVLA)
[4] Road Safety Bill Note 6: Foreign Drivers, (Department for Transport, 2005)
[5] Road Safety Bill Note 6: Foreign Drivers, (Department for Transport, 2005)
[6] Road Safety Bill Note 6: Foreign Drivers, (Department for Transport, 2005)
[7] Road Safety Bill Note 6: Foreign Drivers, (Department for Transport, 2005)
[8] Road Safety Bill Note 6: Foreign Drivers, (Department for Transport, 2005)
[9] Foreign Motorists ‘Escape Fines’, (BBC News Online, 25 October 2005)
[10] Foreign Speed Drivers ‘Not Fined’, (BBC News Online, 23 February 2005)
[11] Inquest Into Crash Deaths Delayed, (BBC News Online, 15 February 2006)
[12] Man Arrested After M-Way Crash, (BBC News Online, 8 July 2004)
[13] Lorry Crash Closes A14, (BBC News Online, 27 February 2003)
[14] An In Depth Study of Work-Related Traffic Accidents, (Department for Transport, 2005)

Justice for victims of life changing serious injury

Brake's long standing campaign for justice for families who experience the devastation of a serious injury at the hands of a dangerous driver has taken a great leap forward.

In October 2011 the Justice Secretary announced a new charge of 'causing serious injury by dangerous driving', which will carry a maximum sentence of five years and an unlimited fine. Read Brake's reaction. It is likely this will be implemented in 2012.

Currently, there is no charge that specifically recognises the causing of serious injury while driving, so drivers who inflict seriously injure through reckless and irresponsible behaviour may only be charged with 'dangerous driving', which carries a maximum of two years in jail, or 'careless driving', which carries a maximum penalty of a fine and disqualification. This has meant there is no justice if you suffer serious injury at the hands of a reckless, irresponsible driver.

While Brake welcomes the new charge, Brake believes that the maximum penalty for it should be on a par with that for causing death by dangerous driving: 14 years. Brake is also concerned that many drivers who cause appalling serious injuries will continue to be prosecuted only for the lesser charge of 'careless driving'. Brake will therefore continue to campaign for higher sentences for dangerous drivers who maim. Read more.

Case study:
One-year-old Cerys Edwards was catastrophically brain damaged, paralysed and left unable to breathe without a ventilator by a dangerous driver driving at more than 70mph in a 30mph zone. Yet this despicable driver got away with a conviction for Dangerous Driving (a charge that doesn't mention any injury caused) and was out of prison in six months. Go to www.cerysedwards.co.uk to read more about this horrendous case that highlights the need for a charge of seriously injuring by bad driving.

Take action

Email politicians now!

Read more

Charges and penalties for drivers who kill and maim in the UK

Campaign news

A step towards justice for road crash victims, 07.10.11
Brake welcomes new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, 07.10.11
New hope for Cerys Edwards campaign, Birmingham Mail, 02.11.09
Family of crash victim Cerys Edwards petition Government, Birmingham Mail, 10.07.09
Rich kid jailed for tot horror, The Sun, 25.04.08

Karl McCartney, MP for Lincoln, January 2012

KarlMcCartneyLincoln MP Karl McCartney has been awarded a Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month Award by the charity Brake and Direct Line for his campaign for tougher penalties for uninsured drivers.

In October Karl asked a questionin Parliament revealing that the average fine for driving an uninsured vehicle is just £200, approximately four times less than the average annual cost of insurance. This encouraged Karl to start a campaign calling for fines to be much higher, to provide a real deterrent from breaking the law.

People who drive uninsured are more likely to crash than other drivers and cause tragic deaths and injuries. In 2011 researchfrom Direct Line and Brake revealed that one in 10 drivers report having been in a collision with an uninsured driver. Uninsured driving also costs the average driver, as the cost of crashes caused by uninsured people are passed on through insurance premiums.

Karl has asked several questions in Parliament and given a speechon the issue. He also ran a survey in Lincoln asking his constituents' views on uninsured drivers. This revealed 50% want the fine for uninsured driving to be £900 or more and 77% feel that if someone causes a serious crash while uninsured they should go to prison. Karl has written a reportand a ten point plan to achieve his goals. These include:

  • An insurance sticker in every windscreen proving a car is insured, like the tax disc;
  • Far tougher sentences for those caught driving uninsured, with the minimum fine in each area being double the average insurance cost in the area for the age and gender of the person caught;
  • Automatic disqualification for people caught driving uninsured, for at least one year, and at least five years for subsequent offences.

Karl has pledged to continue campaigning until uninsured driving becomes socially unacceptable, there are far tougher penalties, and it is eradicated from our roads.

Julie Townsend, Brake campaigns director, said: "Research shows people who drive uninsured are more likely to crash and cause tragic deaths and injuries, so it's vital we see action to remove these highly irresponsible and illegal drivers from our roads. We congratulate Karl on his campaign to tackle uninsured driving and urge government to listen to his calls for action, which make perfect sense in protecting the public from these rogue drivers."

Karl McCartney MP said: "I was surprised to be honoured to be Brake's parliamentarian of the month for my campaign to tackle uninsured drivers and am grateful for their support in this matter. For far too long, politicians have turned a blind eye towards the issue of dealing with uninsured drivers, even though it undermines confidence in the justice system and penalises the law-abiding. Throughout this Parliament I shall continue to press for appropriate punishments for such crimes. We cannot have these people laughing at those who act resLincooln   ponsibly and within the laws of this land anymore."

Nine million motorists admit regularly flouting new mobile phone laws

News from Brake
Thursday, 21 September 2017
news@brake.org.uk

Figures out today (Thursday, 21 September) from the RAC reveal that 9.2 million motorists admit to habitually using their handheld phones behind the wheel, despite tougher penalties for the offence which came into effect in March.  

The findings come just a week after a collation of organisations, lead by road safety charity Brake, wrote to Android, Microsoft and the GSMA (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association), urging them to include an 'opt out' driving mode as standard across mobile handsets. The group has urged the industry to do more following Apple's release of its iOS 11 system update, which includes a 'Do Not Disturb While Driving' mode that automatically detects when someone is driving and prevents distracting calls, text messages and notifications [1].

  

Commenting on today's figures, Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “The illegal use of handheld mobile phones when driving is a growing menace and a major threat to road safety. Research shows that using a phone at the wheel affects reaction times as much as drink driving, increasing the chances of a crash.

  

“As a society, we have become addicted to our mobiles, but a split second distraction caused by a call, text or notification behind the wheel can be deadly. Drivers should always put phones on silent and out of reach in the glove compartment. The mobile phone industry must also play its part, including technology as standard which helps keep drivers' attention on the road, saving lives and preventing serious injuries." 

  

[ENDS] 

  

[1] http://www.brake.org.uk/media-centre/1765-coalition-calls-on-mobile-industry-to-cut-driver-distraction-caused-by-phones 

  

About Brake 

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, 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 campaignscommunity educationservices 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. 

  

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog

  

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. 

Thousands of UK motorists driving with over 12 points

News from Brake
Wednesday 16 August, 2017
  
More than 10,000 motorists are driving on the roads despite having 12 or more penalty points on their licence, according to an analysis by BBC News.
 
Commenting on the new figures, Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Allowing dangerous drivers to stay on the road makes a total mockery of the points system. These are irresponsible individuals who have shown disregard for the law and the lives of other road users, time after time. People who clock up over 12 points should face an automatic ban - there needs to be a clear message that dangerous driving will not be tolerated." 
 
[Ends] 
 
About Brake
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, 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 campaignscommunity educationservices 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.
 
Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.
 
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.

Tougher penalties for speeders

Speeding offences make up about one in three of all driving offences in England and Wales (Motoring Offences and Breath Test Statistics England and Wales 2002 (Home Office, 2004)). Research carried out in Scotland shows drivers who speed are nearly twice as likely to have been involved recently in a crash (Stradling, SG; The Speeding Driver: Who, How and Why, Scottish Executive Social Research Findings No. 170/2003).

Although many drivers admit to speeding and know speeding costs lives, they often do not recognise their own speeding as dangerous. This mixed thinking is not helped by speeding penalties being ridiculously low; usually a fixed small fine and a few points, with no need to appear in court.

Conversely, recent regulations give local authorities great powers to fine people high fines for littering and fly-tipping (The Litter (Fixed Penalty) (England) Order 2002, Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 424). Teams such as the Litter Hit Squad in Walsall and Town Patrollers in Tameside can issue fixed penalty notices of £1,000 for a second dog fouling offence and £2,500 for a second litter offence. People found guilty of fly-tipping may face a maximum penalty of a £20,000 fine and a prison sentence for each offence.

Brake supports higher fines for speeding that exceed fines for non-lethal offences such as littering, with an additional link between fines and personal income, like they do in Finland, as well as more disqualifications. In Finland, a fine of 170,000 euros was imposed on Jussi Salonoja, 27-year-old rich kid, who was caught driving 80km/h in a 40km/h zone. The fine was based on Salonoja’s earnings.

Read more

Speed in towns and villages

Tougher penalties for speeding welcomed by road safety charity

News from Brake

21 April 2017 
news@brake.org.uk

Brake, the road safety has welcomed a series of measures to get tough on drivers who break speed limits.

The new fines come into force from 24th April, when new sentencing guidelines take effect.

Drivers responsible for high speed offences will be given harsher fines, under a series of strict new rules for district judges and magistrates.

They could be fined 150% of their weekly income, rather than the existing level of 100%.

This includes drivers caught doing 41mph in a 20mph area, 51mph in a 30mph area or 66mph in a 40mph area.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: “Toughening the fines and penalties for speeding is long overdue.  As a charity that offers a support service to families bereaved and injured in road crashes, we see every day the consequences of speeding on our roads. I hope that magistrates ensure the new sentences are consistently applied.”

Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for conditions was recorded (by police at crash scenes) as a contributory factor of 23% of fatal crashes in 2015 [1].

A Brake survey found that four in 10 (40%) UK drivers admitted they sometimes drive at 30mph in 20mph zones.[2]

Currently in the UK the minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three penalty points added to your driving licence, while the maximum fine is £1,000 or £2,500 for motorway offences.

[Ends]

Note to Editors

Speed will be at the heart of Road Safety Week 2017, coordinated by Brake, the road safety charity, and supported by Aviva. The charity is also supporting the United Nations Global Road Safety Week (8-14 May) which focuses on ways to manage speed and prioritise road safety worldwide.

To help raise awareness about the dangers posed by speeding drivers, Brake will be working with campaigners, community groups, road safety professionals, companies and schools, who can now register for a free action pack via www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk.

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths, serious injuries and pollution occurring on our roads every day. We work to make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake's vision is a world where there are zero road deaths and injuries, and people can get around in ways that are safe, sustainable, healthy and fair. We do this by pushing for legislative change through national campaignscommunity educationservices 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.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

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.

[1] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual Report 2015, Department for Transport, 2016, table RAS50008

[2] Report on safe driving: speed, Brake, 2016