Articles Tagged ‘sentencing - Brake the road safety charity’

Bradford South MP wins national road safety award

News from Brake
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
news@brake.org.uk

Bradford South MP wins national road safety award

Judith Cummins, MP for Bradford South, has today been awarded a parliamentarian road safety award by charity Brake and Direct Line.

The award recognises Judith’s dedication to road safety, both within her constituency and nationally. Since her election in 2015, she has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the weaknesses in criminal justice for drivers convicted of killing and seriously injuring by careless and dangerous driving.

Judith, along with other campaigners including Brake, helped secure an increase in sentencing for those found guilty of the most serious road crimes from the Ministry of Justice last month - a landmark victory for the families of road crash victims.

Locally, Judith Cummins has raised the profile of the Telegraph and Argus’ long-running ‘danger drivers’ campaign within her home town of Bradford and in Parliament, including speaking in numerous debates and helping tackle the issue of dangerous driving across the city.

Next week, Judith is holding an event to promote the importance of safe and considerate driving on Bradford’s roads, as part this year's Road Safety Week. 

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said:"Judith is a worthy winner of this parliamentarian road safety award. Her tireless campaigning to help tackle dangerous driving on the roads of Bradford is to be applauded. Judith has also worked alongside Brake and others to make the Government recognise that the statute books have been weighed against families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have broken the law. The recent decision by the Ministry of Justice to increase sentences for the most dangerous drivers is a major victory in the fight for improved road safety." 

Accepting her award, Judith Cummins MP said: “I am delighted to have received Brake’s Road Safety Award off the back of my long-standing campaign to improve safety on the roads of my home city of Bradford. Dangerous and careless driving has been a blight on the communities of Bradford for far too long. The recent Government announcement that tougher punishments will be introduced for driving offenders was very welcome news. This change in the law is testament to what can be achieved when we all speak with one voice – I wish to thank everyone who made their voice heard by responding to the public consultation.

“Brake, as a national campaigning charity, has been tirelessly campaigning for improved road safety for many, many decades. Its greatly admired work supporting bereaved families is especially worthy of our praise. I very much look forward to continuing to work alongside Brake to campaign for better standards, stronger laws and tougher enforcement on the roads of Bradford and the whole of the UK.”

[ENDS] 

Notes to editors: 

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety 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 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.

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.  

About Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or online.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com.

Brake applauds new tougher sentences for drivers who kill and injure

News from Brake
Sunday, 15 October 2017
news@brake.org.uk

The Ministry of Justice has today (Sunday, 15 October 2017) announced long-awaited plans to increase maximum sentences for drivers who cause death by speeding, racing or using a mobile phone. Offenders who cause death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs will also face life sentences, and a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving will be created, the Ministry has said.

Commenting on the news, Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "Today's announcement is a major victory for the families of victims and charities, including Brake, who have tirelessly campaigned for punishments which better fit road crimes that kill and seriously injure people.

"We applaud the Government for at last recognising that the statute books have been weighed against thousands of families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have flagrantly broken the law.

"In addition to tougher penalties, Government must also make road policing a national priority, reversing savage cuts to front line resources so that laws are properly enforced in the first place. Figures released only last month reveal that almost 1,800 people were killed on British roads last year - a four per cent rise since 2015. There is an urgent need for a road collision investigation branch, similar to those already in existence for air, rail and sea, so that lessons can be learned to prevent future deaths and serious injuries on the roads."

/ENDS

Notes to editors 

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety 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 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.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Brake comments on cycling offence announcement

News from Brake
Friday, 9 March 2018
 
The Department for Transport has published a report that finds there is a strong case for changing the law to tackle the issue of dangerous and careless cycling that causes injury or death. If this were to be introduced, it would bring cycling in line with driving offences.
 
Commenting on the announcement, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: “Delivering justice for those who have lost a loved one on our roads is vitally important. Whether a crash was caused by a bike or a car makes no difference to the families devastated by such loss and so we welcome the move by the Government to provide parity in the law.”
 
The publication of the report comes alongside a call for evidence on the Government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy. This is part of the Government’s drive to make cycling and walking safer, while encouraging more people to take up cycling at all ages.
 
Mr Harris said: “Getting more journeys to be taken by bike or by foot, rather than by car, can deliver significant personal and public health benefits. Brake welcomes this opportunity to improve the road environment for cyclists and pedestrians and urges the Government to not shy away from the big decisions, such as implementing and enforcing safer speed limits.”
 
A Brake and Direct Line report [1], published yesterday (Thursday 8 March), found that drivers are deterred from choosing to cycle by the nature of the current road environment. Drivers stated that the 60mph speed limit on single-carriageway A roads is too fast to assure the safety of cyclists and that both the warning signs and space available for cyclists are inadequate.
 
Drivers have called on the Government to address these concerns by investing in building segregated, tarmacked cycle paths alongside the single-carriageway A road network, prioritising this above any expansion of the road itself. Brake and Direct Line’s report finds that such investment would significantly increase the numbers of those cycling, as whilst 70 per cent of drivers state that they currently never cycle on single-carriageway A roads, more than half state that they would be persuaded to if there was a demarcated space for cyclists.
 
Mr Harris said: “Contrary to popular opinion, drivers have told us that they are willing to switch modes and cycle if safe facilities are available. We echo this call and urge the Government to prioritise investment in safe, segregated cycle routes.”
 
[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 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.

Brake hails better justice for victims of disqualified drivers as tougher sentences come into effect

Monday 13 April 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Brake, the road safety charity, has congratulated the government on delivering desperately needed improvements to justice for bereaved and injured victims of disqualified drivers, as part of theCriminal Justice and Courts Act coming into force today (13 April).

The new rules mean anyone convicted of causing death by driving while disqualified will face a maximum of 10 years in prison, up from only two years previously. Drivers convicted of the new offence of causing serious injury by driving while disqualified will face up to four years in prison.

A wider review of all driving offences and charges by the Ministry of Justice is ongoing.

Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “This is an important day for everybody involved in campaigning for better justice for victims of criminal driving. Getting behind the wheel when a court has already found you to be a danger on the road, and has disqualified you from doing so, is one of the most selfish decision you can make as a driver. It is entirely right that maximum sentences are being increased, and we hope that judges will make use of them where appropriate.

“This is a good first step to securing better justice for victims and families, many of whom have been left feeling betrayed by inappropriate charges and paltry sentences. There are a number of other urgent issues with how the justice system handles cases of criminal driving, and Brake will be pressuring whoever forms the next government to follow the current Ministry of Justice review through to a satisfactory conclusion.”

Brake campaigns for tougher penalties for drivers who kill, injure and endanger, alongside better enforcement, through its crackdown campaign. Tweet us @Brakecharity, #crackdown.

Brake

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 campaignscommunity 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.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook.

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.

Brake responds to hand-held mobile phone consultation

Department for Transport consultation on changes to the Fixed Penalty Notice and penalty points for the use of a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving

Response from Brake, the road safety charity

Brake’s position on mobile phones and driving

Brake welcomes this consultation and its acknowledgement that change is needed but believes none of the options go far enough to make our roads as safe as they could be.

Driving is a highly unpredictable and risky activity, so it requires full concentration at all times. From its extensive work with bereaved and injured road crash victims, Brake understands the devastation caused by people who kill and seriously injure because they couldn’t wait a few more moments to make a phone call.

Evidence shows that mobile phone use at the wheel is a widespread and dangerous activity that results in needless loss of life and devastation to many families every year. Brake constantly scans international research to learn from the best practice of road safety professionals worldwide. This research, when combined with Brake’s long experience in the road safety field, points to policies that can be deployed to address the problem.

On the basis of this evidence, and Brake’s experience supporting traumatised road crash victims, Brake recommends the government:

• ban use of hands-free phones at the wheel, in line with evidence that they increase crash risk just as much as using a hand-held phone, due to the distraction of the phone conversation.
• implement much higher penalties for any driver using a phone of any type at the wheel. We support an increase from the current £100 fixed penalty fine to at least £500-1,000 and at least six penalty points – so drivers take it seriously.
• work across department and with police to ensure increased and adequate resourcing for traffic enforcement, including by making traffic policing a national policing priority.

Some key evidence supporting this position includes:

• Drivers speaking on phones are four times more likely to be in a crash that causes injury, on a hands-free or hand-held phone[i]. Their crash risk remains higher than normal for up to 10 minutes after the call[ii].
• Drivers using phones have slower reaction times and difficulty controlling speed and lane position[iii]. They brake more sharply in response to hazards, increasing the risk of rear-end crashes[iv].
• Some drivers mistakenly believe that talking on a hands-free kit at the wheel is safe[v]. Research shows hands-free calls cause almost the same level of risk as hand-held[vi], as the call itself is the main distraction. Brain scanning has confirmed that speaking on a hands-free phone makes you less alert and less visually attentive[vii].
• Laws that only ban hand-held phones are less effective in reducing crashes, because many drivers simply switch to hands-free phones, so are still distracted[viii]. A Brake and Direct Line survey found that following the UK’s introduction of a ban on using hand-held phones at the wheel in 2003, between 2006 and 2014, the proportion of UK drivers using hand-held mobile phones dropped from 36% to 13%, but those using hands-free rose from 22% to 32%[ix].
• Talking on a phone while driving has been shown to be worse than drinking certain amounts of alcohol. Driver reaction times are 30% slower while using a hands-free phone than driving with a blood alcohol level of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, and nearly 50% slower than driving under normal conditions[x].
• Reading and writing messages while driving – such as texting, emailing or social networking – is even more distracting than talking on a phone. Texting drivers have 35% slower reaction times and poor lane control[xi]. One study found texting drivers were 23 times more likely to crash than drivers paying attention[xii].
• Reaching for a mobile phone can be an irresistible temptation for some. In the UK, experts have warned of increasing levels of smartphone addiction by users who are unable to go without checking their phone for short periods or through the night[xiii]. Even the sound of a mobile phone ringing has been found to cause distraction and increase crash risk[xiv].

A survey of 1,000 drivers in a report for Brake and Direct Line[xv] found that nearly half of drivers (47%) want fines for mobile phone use at the wheel increased to £500 or more, while a further 31% want the fine more than doubled to £200.
Brake also believes that further work is needed by government to address the wide issue of driver distractions, including in response to emerging technologies, and to raise driver awareness. See our fact page on the topic.

Option 0 - Do nothing

Brake believes that Option 0 is not a viable option; as acknowledged in the DfT’s own background research to this consultation, the current penalties are failing to stop many drivers from breaking the law.

According to the consultation’s background information in 1.24 What is the problem sectionin 2014, using a mobile phone whilst driving was a contributory factor in 21 fatal accidents (crashes), but it is broadly believed that mobile phone use is dramatically underreported due in part, because of the difficulty in proving that the driver was using a mobile phone at the time of the accident. It is clear, however, that a number of high profile accidents have mobile phone use recorded as a contributory factor.

Behind every one of these numbers is a family and community torn apart by a sudden, violent and preventable death. Another 84 people in that year were reported as seriously injured in mobile phone crashes, some in life changing ways, taking the total reported numbers of people killed and seriously injured in mobile phone crashes to 105: two people every week.

Brake agrees with the DfT’s assertion that these statistics are likely to be greatly under-reported, from both our experience supporting road crash victims, academic research on the risks of phone use at the wheel, and our own behavioural surveys. A 2014 study by Brake and Direct Line[xvi] found almost half of drivers (45%) admitted talking on a mobile at the wheel in the previous year. One in eight (13%) are breaking the law by using a hand-held phone. This was significantly down from 2006 when 36% admitted to doing it, three years after it was banned, but remains a significant minority. This appears to show the current penalties deter some drivers, by no means all. At the same time we found increasing use of hands-free kits, which is a major concern for reasons stated above.

Brake believes the public would support much stronger action and penalties, and respond to stronger penalties and enforcement. This is supported by the latest British Social Attitudes study 2014 [xvii] where it states “67% of people agree that the law on using mobile phones whilst driving is not properly enforced”.

Option 1 - Increasing the Fixed Penalty Notice by 50% from £100 to £150 for all drivers (including HGVs)

Brake’s position on Option 1 is that this level of fine is not a significantly increased deterrent. We are calling for a much higher penalty of at least £500-1,000, so drivers take it seriously. The current levels of fines for using a mobile phone behind the wheel are more comparable with parking penalties than with something like drink driving, whereas the danger is much more akin to the offence of drink-driving as outlined above.

People face much higher fines for many minor offences that pose no threat to human life. For example, the fine for not having a TV licence is up to £1,000, ten times higher than the current fine for using a mobile phone while driving. Many bereaved and injured road crash victims agree that such a low level of fine is insulting, and unhelpful to efforts to raise awareness about the seriousness of this crime. We believe that increasing the fine by just £50 is inadequate in addressing this. Recent research by Brake and Direct Line, as quoted above, shows large majority of drivers support fines of above this level too.

International evidence is clear that tougher penalties pose a stronger deterrent and help to reduce traffic offending and the larger the increase in the fine the greater the drop there will be in that offending[xviii].

Option 2 - Increasing the penalty points from 3 to 4 for non HGV drivers and from 3 to 6 for HGV drivers where the offence was committed in a Large Goods Vehicle

Brake would welcome a doubling of penalty points to six for HGV drivers caught on phones, but if this is seen as the optimum deterrent, we would question why this could not also be implemented for drivers of other vehicles. Brake would strongly recommend this move is extended to drivers of all vehicle types, to ensure the maximum deterrent and make clear this offence is unacceptable no matter what vehicle you are driving.

There appears to be strong evidence for the public favouring this move in the DfT’s consultation notes in 1.22 What is the problem section, stating a YouGov poll in 2014 showed 73% of drivers are in favour of doubling the penalty points for those caught using a mobile phone while driving.

Option 3 - Increasing the FPN by 50% from £100 to £150 for all drivers AND, raising the penalty level from 3 to 4 penalty points for non-HGV drivers and from 3 to 6 penalty points for Large Goods Vehicle licence holders who commit the offence whilst driving a HGV

Option 3 is Brake’s preferred option but we believe this still does not go far enough. As stated previously we are calling for a much higher fixed penalty notice of £500-1,000, and a substantial increase in points to help ensure a real impact on driver behaviour. We believe doubling the points to six for all drivers caught using a mobile phone at the wheel would be a much stronger deterrent and make our roads safer.

This is a valuable opportunity for the government to make a real and tangible difference to the safety of our roads and we would urge the DfT to carefully consider our arguments and look at strengthening Option 3 to include six penalty points and a fine of £500-1,000 for all drivers who commit this dangerous offence that has the potential to end lives. Every life saved prevents the immeasurable cost to families who lose loved ones, and saves society the financial cost of £1.84 million[xix].

CASE STUDY

Imogen Cauthery, from Crouch End in London, was just nine years old when she suffered devastating life changing injuries after being hit by a car in 1996. The driver, who was talking on a mobile phone at the time, didn't even stop to check if she was alive. Her life was only saved because a local doctor saw the crash from his window and rushed to provide CPR, but Imogen then remained in a coma for 10 days.

Imogen suffered long-term debilitating injuries including brain damage that affects her memory and her ability to achieve her ambitions. To this day she continues to experience epilepsy seizures caused by the crash, and almost died a second time because of the condition. The crash also deeply affected Imogen’s older sister, who witnessed it.

Imogen, now 28, has given her comments on the consultation to Brake.

“There is already so much evidence on the dangers of mobile phone use and the government is fully aware of stories like mine and many other people’s; something has to be done. The new penalties certainly aren’t tough enough. You have to give drivers more points or take their licences from them completely. There needs to be a bigger fine, as well, of at least a thousand pounds. I get so jealous of my friends now, who I went to primary school with. They are doctors or at university studying maths and I’ve got so many difficulties. I do exercise in the morning and then I volunteer and then I’m bored, bored, bored. I want so much more from my life that I cannot have because of my injuries. I have two lives, my first one from 1987-1996 and my second one from 1996 onwards. That’s how it is now until I die and I certainly want my first life back. But that can never happen because someone couldn’t wait to make a phone call.”

[i] Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study, University of Western Australia, 2005
[ii] Association between cellular-telephone calls and motor vehicle collisions, Massachusetts Medical Society, 1997
[iii] Using a hands-free mobile whilst driving can be more dangerous than drink driving, Transport Research Laboratory, 2009
[iv] Stopping behaviour of drivers distracted by mobile phone conversations, Queensland University of Technology, 2013
[v] Mobile phone use: a growing problem of driver distraction, World Health Organisation, 2011
[vi] Using a hands-free mobile whilst driving can be more dangerous than drink driving, Transport Research Laboratory, 2009
[vii] Speaking on a hands-free phone while driving makes you less alert and less attentive, University of Toronto, 2013
[viii] Handheld cell phone laws and collision claim frequencies, Highway Loss Data Institute, 2010
[ix] Driven to distraction: mobile phones, Brake and Direct Line, 2014
[x] Using a hands-free mobile whilst driving can be more dangerous than drink driving, Transport Research Laboratory, 2009
[xi] The effect of text messaging on driver behaviour: a simulator study, Transport Research Laboratory, 2008
[xii] Driver Distraction in Commercial Motor Vehicle Operations, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 2009
[xiii] The Communications Market 2011, Ofcom, 2011
[xiv] Influence of personal mobile phone ringing and usual intention to answer on driver error, Aston University, 2012
[xv] http://www.brake.org.uk/assets/docs/dl_reports/DL-Risky-Business-2013-section-3.pdf
[xvi] http://www.brake.org.uk/assets/docs/dl_reports/DLreport-DrivenToDistraction-sec2-MobilePhones-2014.pdf
[xvii] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/481877/british-social-attitudes-survey-2014.pdf
[xviii] http://www.swov.nl/rapport/Factsheets/UK/FS_Penalties_in_traffic.pdf
[xix] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras60-average-value-of-preventing-road-accidents
table no RAS60001

Brake responds to sentencing of Adam Elliott for dangerous driving

News from Brake

16 June 2017

 

Judge Robert Adams, sitting at Newcastle Crown Court, today handed Adam Elliott, 26, a nine-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, a £100 fine and £1,500 prosecution costs, for dangerous driving.

 

Adam Elliott had previously admitted charges of dangerous driving, failing to stop, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance at a previous hearing.

 

He will also be disqualified from driving for two years and has been ordered to carry out 150 hours of rehabilitation activity.

 

Commenting on the sentencing, Jason Wakeford, from road safety charity Brake, said: "This driver has shown total disregard for the safety of others on the road and the law. It's nothing short of a miracle that no one was killed by his reckless actions.

 

"On average, five people die on our roads each day. We believe that sentences for those who endanger, injure or kill should be much tougher, serving as a better warning  to those who flagrantly flout the law. There also needs to be more investment in road traffic policing, so the police have the resources needed to take more dangerous drivers off our roads."

Brake responds to sentencing of Mohmed Patel for causing death by dangerous driving

News from Brake
Tuesday 7 August 2018
 
Mohmed Salman Patel has today been jailed for six years and been disqualified from driving for nine years after being found guilty of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. Mr Patel was found to have been using his mobile phone to text moments before he collided with Rachel Murphy and Shelby Maher on 20 April 2016
.
Commenting on the sentencing, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:
 
“Mr Patel’s selfish actions resulted in the tragic and needless deaths of Rachel Murphy and Shelby Maher and yet he will only face a maximum of six years in jail - a pitifully lenient sentence for such an awful crime. Ten months ago, the Government announced it would introduce tougher sentences for drivers who kill and yet the law remains unchanged. The Government needs to stop sitting on its hands and introduce this legislation - road crash victims deserve justice.”
 
“Mobile phone use behind the wheel is all too common on our roads and its consequences, as in this case, can be truly catastrophic. The deaths of Rachel and Shelby must act as a wake-up call to the Government and technology companies that action needs to be taken to stop illegal phone use behind the wheel. Research has shown that smartphone owners can’t go 12 minutes without checking their phone and the implications for this for road safety must be acknowledged and acted upon. "
 
[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 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.

Brake welcomes tougher penalties for unlicensed drivers who kill and injure

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk

Justice secretary Chris Grayling MP today announced that disqualified drivers who kill and injure will face much tougher sentences, with a maximum of 10 years for those who kill and four years for those who seriously injure. The current maximum sentence is only two years for a death, and there is no specific offence for causing a serious injury while disqualified.

The justice secretary also announced his intention to conduct a full review of driving offences and penalties. Read more.

Reacting, Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "Brake has long campaigned for a shake-up of charges and penalties for risky and irresponsible drivers who kill and injure on our roads. Brake supports families who have been deeply and permanently affected by selfish and risky behaviour at the wheel and we frequently hear from these families that they feel terribly let down by our justice system. As such, we strongly welcome Chris Grayling's announcement of a thorough review this year.

The paltry sentences handed out for deaths and injuries caused by disqualified drivers, who have no right to be on the road in the first place, are one of the worst injustices in the current system, and Brake strongly welcomes the government's move to address this. Getting behind the wheel when you have been banned from driving is a deliberate and illegal choice, and too often leads to d evastating tragedies - the penalties must reflect this."

Find out more about Brake's Crackdown campaign for tougher penalties for drivers who kill and injure. Tweet us @Brakecharity, #Crackdown.

Brake
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 campaignscommunity education, a Fleet Safety Forumpractitioner services, 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.

Brake welcomes tougher sentencing for drivers who kill

Friday 22 May 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Brake, the road safety charity, has welcomed figures published yesterday (21 May 2015) by the Ministry of Justice showing more drivers convicted of killing are going to jail for longer.

The annual criminal justice statistics for 2014 show three in five drivers (60%) convicted of causing death in England and Wales receive immediate custodial sentences, up from just over half (54%) in 2013. The average sentence length for these drivers is four years, up from three and a half years in 2013 [1].

This change is in part due to increased use of the more serious ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ charge compared with the lesser ‘causing death by careless driving’ charge. Prosecutions for the former are up from 144 in 2013 to 176 in 2014, while prosecutions for the latter are down from 234 in 2013 to 205 in 2014. This reverses a decline in the use of the ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ charge that had been ongoing since 2007. Brake has previously expressed concern that the lesser charge was being inappropriately used in many serious cases where deliberate and illegal risks were taken by drivers.

A comprehensive Ministry of Justice review of driving charges and penalties is ongoing. It is hoped this will deliver further improvements in achieving justice for victims of criminal driving and their families, and in showing that risky, illegal driving will not be tolerated.

The 2014 figures also show that prosecutions for all motoring offences are up 4.5%, mainly due to a 26% increase in speeding prosecutions. Other offences, including drink driving, careless driving and using a mobile phone while driving, have seen small decreases.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:“Brake has long campaigned for better justice for bereaved and injured road crash victims and their families, who are often left feeling betrayed by the use of inappropriately-termed charges and lenient sentences. Drivers who have killed while taking illegal risks have too often been labelled ‘careless’ in the eyes of the law, and given insultingly low sentences, when their actions can only be described as dangerous and destructive. It is encouraging that we are starting to see this trend being reversed, with more offenders being appropriately charged with causing a death by dangerous driving, and receiving tougher sentences that better reflect the consequences of their actions. There is more work to be done, but this could be the start of a culture shift towards treating driving offences with the gravity they deserve; we are hopeful that the government’s ongoing review will deliver further improvements.”

Brake campaigns for tougher penalties for drivers who kill, injure and endanger, alongside heightened enforcement, through its crackdown campaign. Tweet us @Brakecharity, #crackdown.

Brake

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 campaignscommunity 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.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, orThe Brake Blog. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

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.

End notes

[1] Criminal justice system statistics quarterly: December 2014, Ministry of Justice, 2015

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

 

 

Clwyd South MP wins national award for outstanding contribution to road safety

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

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 thetragic 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 herDriving 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-rangingreview 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 thegovernment’s decision to raise the speed limit for HGVs on single carriageways, whichshe described as “daft and dangerous”.

Brake campaigns for tougher sentences for drivers who kill and injure through itscrackdown 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

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 campaignscommunity 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.

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com.

Clwyd South MP wins national road safety award for tougher sentences for drivers who kill

10 February 2014

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South, has been given a national road safety award by the charity Brake and Direct Line Group for her work campaigning for longer jail terms for drivers who kill or seriously injure.

Susan launched her campaign after the tragic death of nine-year-old, Robert Gaunt, who was run over and killed by driver David Lunn, 65, in 2009.

Lunn, had no licence, no insurance and failed to stop when he hit and killed Robert. He was given a 22 month prison sentence, but served just 10 months.

The maximum sentence for causing a death when driving unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured is two years in jail, and the maximum for killing someone and failing to stop and report it is up to six months. This compares to a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison for drivers convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

Susan brought forward The Driving Offences (Review of Sentencing Guidelines) Bill under a 10-minute rule bill in January: she called for the government to reconsider the maximum jail sentences for driving that leads to death and serious injury, including unlicensed and hit and run drivers.

After being contacted by Robert Gaunt's family and other local residents in 2010 outraged over 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 to raise awareness of this gross injustice.

In 2011, Susan drew the attention of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Crispin Blunt, to her campaign and urged him to consider a review of maximum sentences for serious driving offences. While he noted her concerns, this time the Minister did not accept the need for a review.

Susan was able to secure cross party support for her Private Member's Bill - inJanuary 2014 - calling for a review. Numerous other MPs across different parties said they had experienced similar cases to Robert's in their own constituencies, and were equally concerned about the issue of justice for bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims.

The formal date for second reading in Parliament is 28 February and the Ministry of Justice is now committed to reviewing the law surrounding serious driving offences.

Susan has been speaking to MPs across different political parties to try to ensure the issue is kept at the forefront of the political debate, and vows to continue working on the campaign.

Read about Brake's 'Crackdown' campaign.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: "We're fully behind Susan's campaign, which is vital in helping to secure justice for families who have been 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 look forward to continuing to work alongside her in the future."

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

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (17-23 November 2014), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

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.

Direct Line Insurance Group plc

Direct Line Insurance Group plc (Direct Line Group) is headquartered in Bromley, Kent; it has operations in the UK, Germany and Italy.

Through its number of well known brands Direct Line Group offers a wide range of general insurance products to consumers. These brands include; Direct Line, Churchill and Privilege.

It also offers insurance services for third party brands through its Partnerships division. In the commercial sector, its NIG and Direct Line for Business operations provide insurance products for businesses via brokers or direct respectively.

In addition to insurance services, Direct Line Group continues to provide support and reassurance to millions of UK motorists through its Green Flag breakdown recovery service and TRACKER stolen vehicle recovery and telematics business.

 

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

Driver rehabilitation

Vincents Solicitors is pleased to support Brake.
 

Key facts

  • In 2015, 1,403,555 offenders chose to attend a National Driving Offender Scheme (NDORS) course, over three times the number of offenders that attended retraining courses in 2010 (467,601); [1]
  • Speed awareness courses are the most frequently attended of the NDORS; 1,207,570 offenders attended a speed awareness course in 2015, 86% of the total NDORS courses that year; [2]
  • In 2012 around 45,000 drink-drive offenders were referred to Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) courses, with nearly 24,000 offenders accepting the offer [3];
  • Up to 2 years after the initial drink-drive conviction, offenders who did not attend a rehabilitation course were 2.6 times more likely to be convicted for a subsequent drink-drive offence, than those who attended [4].

Introduction

Drivers who are caught committing low-level traffic offences may, in the UK, be given the option to attend a re-training course as an alternative to prosecution or as a means of reducing their sentence (usually to avoid a fixed penalty notice and/or penalty points on their licence).

The information below looks at the courses available and their effectiveness.

National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme

Overview

The National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) is unique to the UK, originating from a recommendation in Sir Peter North’s Road Traffic Law Review, 1988 [5]. Although the courses were never given the statutory footing suggested in the review, the police were given the opportunity to develop the policy behind the courses with the aid of key stakeholders.

The main aim of the NDORS is to prevent re-offending and encourage more positive driver behaviour and greater compliance with road traffic legislation. They are designed by a Strategic Course Development Group consisting of operational policing representatives, behavioural change and transport academics and senior road safety practitioners.

The courses are offered at the discretion of the police who make their decision based upon:

  • The circumstances of the incident;
  • Any additional evidence;
  • If there is a reasonable chance of prosecution;
  • Whether there was no serious injury or fatality at the time of the offence;
  • If the offender has not attended a similar driver retraining course in the past three years.[6]

NDORS courses are not appropriate for ‘high risk’ offenders and they can only be offered to an offender once within a three year period. If a person commits a similar offence again within this three year period, they will not have the option to take the re-training course, instead they will face fines and penalty points on their licence.

There are NDORS approved training centres available across England, Wales and Northern Ireland (with similar systems in place in Scotland), funded on a local level by the offender paying for the cost of the course.

There are currently seven NDORS courses available to the public, for a variety of offences, these are as follows:

1. National Driver Awareness Course

The National Driver Awareness Course (NDAC), formerly known as the National Driver Improvement Scheme (NDIS), is aimed at drivers who have been involved in a minor crash where the police have classed their driving as having been careless or inconsiderate. The course lasts for one day and involves a mixture of driving theory, modern training methods and practical on-road driving with an accredited instructor. The scheme is delivered by a combination of specialist Department for Transport approved driving instructors and trainers.

2. National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC)

The aim of the National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC) is to explore reasons why drivers speed and to discourage them from doing so in the future. The course is design to cover appropriate offences detected by speed cameras and road-side police offices within a specific range of the speed limit (10%+2mph to 10%+9mph) excluding 20mph zones.

The course acts as an alternative to the fixed penalty notice and penalty points that would otherwise be issued; it lasts for four hours and is based entirely within a classroom environment. The NSAC is the most frequently attended of the NDORS courses; 1,207,570 offenders attended an NSAC course in 2015, 86% of the total NDORS courses that year. [7]

3. National Speed Awareness Course for 20mph

The new National Speed Awareness Course for 20mph (NSAC+20) is an attempt to crackdown on speeding in the newly created 20mph zones. As the popularity of the 20mph limit increases the police aim to use the NSAC+20 to target the unaware and unintentional behaviour that can be associated with the newness of the 20mph limits.

The course was introduced as a phased programme in August 2013, which was followed by the roll-out of the national NSAC+20 in January 2014 for adoption by police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A full evaluation of the new course is currently underway. 

4. Rider Intervention Developing Experience

The Rider Intervention Developing Experience (RIDE) course has been designed solely with two-wheel riders in mind. It is targeted towards riders’ whose on-road behaviour has brought them to the attention of the police. In 2015, 986 riders chose to attend a RIDE course. [8]

The main objective of the course is to address negative rider behaviour, which could be described as thrill or sensation seeking; antisocial or careless. The course takes place over a single, five hour session which focuses on a mixture of riding theory and rider psychology.

5. Driving for Change (D4C)

The Drive for Change (D4C) course is a practical course lasting for two hours and fifteen minutes, during this time an accredited instructor will provide two students with tailored advice and support. The D4C course is offered to address lack of driving skill, e.g. lapse of concentration, errors in judgement and lack of awareness in a non-collision incident. In 2015, NDORS reported that 2,924 offenders attended the D4C courses. [9]

6. What’s Driving Us

The What’s Driving Us (WDU) course is targeted at drivers who, evidence suggests, knew that their actions were a road traffic offence but carried them out regardless. The incident must not have involved a collision and the police must have clear evidence that mischief carried out by act or omission was intentional or deliberate. The course lasts for four hours; focussing on driving theory in a classroom environment. 

7. Your Belt-Your Life

The ‘Your Belt- Your Life’ scheme is for offenders caught not wearing a seat belt, where there is no exemption. It is based entirely online (or in a workbook for those who do not have internet access) and is the only NDORS course to have a pass/fail outcome. 

Success?

The NDORS have proven a popular alternative to fixed penalty notices and penalty points in the UK. Between 2010 and 2015 there has been a three-fold increase in offenders choosing to undertake these courses, emphasising the attractiveness to the driving public.

The speed awareness courses have proven the most frequently attended, 86% of the NDORS courses attended in 2015 were speed-orientated. A study of the effectiveness of these courses found that the ones that measured re-offending showed that there was a statistically significant reduction in those detected speeding again:

  • In Lincolnshire, 5% of convicted speeders who attended a course were detected speeding again, compared to the 10% of convicted speeders who did not attend a course;
  • In Humberside, 8% of drivers who attended a course received a further speeding offence, compared to the 25% who did not attend. [10]

However, this public acceptance of re-training schemes is not without its jeopardies. Although the re-training system is supposed to be a one-time opportunity, with re-offenders receiving penalty points and fines; drivers caught for different offences can go on additional re-training courses without repercussions.

Brake argues that it would be better to provide an incentive of a reduced fine to attend courses, so that drivers who offend will continue to be sanctioned under the penalty points system. This would be possible if the fixed penalty notice was increased to £500-£1,000 as Brake advocates.

Drink-driver rehabilitation

Overview

The Road Traffic Act 1991 allowed ‘designated’ courts to offer drink-drive offenders the opportunity to attend a rehabilitation course under the Drink-Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS). Since January 2000, the scheme has been made permanent and is now available through all courts in Great Britain for drink-drives who have been disqualified for a period of at least 12 months. [11]

The courses can be offered to offenders, at the discretion of the court, if they are convicted of:

  • Driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with excess alcohol in their blood, breath or urine;
  • Failing to provide a sample.

If the offender opts to take up the court’s referral and successfully completes the course, their period of disqualification from driving can be reduced. In the case of a 12-month period of disqualification, the reduction will be three months. For longer periods of disqualification, the period of reduction will be up to one quarter, as determined by the court.

The DVSA holds responsibility for overseeing the DRRS and its syllabus material.

Telford Training Consultants

The Telford Training Consultants (TTC-Group) is the UK’s largest provider of drink-drive courses, with over 155 venues across the UK. The TTC-Group was appointed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for the Environment Northern Ireland (DOENI) to deliver courses under the DDRS. The TTC has been providing these courses for over 22 years and have run courses for over 100,000 offenders in this time. [12]

Although there are no national statistics on the number of court referrals to offender training schemes, Graham Wynn, director at TTC, believes that the national rate for referrals is about 60-70%. He feels that the work that TTC does in educating magistrates and legal professionals on the benefits of the course is the main reason why the referral rate is significantly higher than the national figure.

Reasons given for not taking up the course include the individual not being able to afford the cost of the course, or feeling that they don’t have time to do it. However, Mr Wynn said that TTC worked hard to make the course affordable and easily accessible. Mr Wynn said: “We try to make it as affordable as possible because the higher the take-up rate the more we can do to make roads safer.”

Mr Wynn said: “All of the people on the course will be going back on the road so we talk to them about responsible driving. A lot of people think we are going to be wagging the finger at them but we are not. The education is more subtle than that and the work at the end of the course on how drink driving affects the victims is very powerful. We have also had an unexpected outcome. We hear the course attendees saying to each other that they have been speaking to their friends, colleagues or partners at home and telling them what they have learnt on the course and that it is not acceptable to have a couple of drinks. Therefore, we are not only getting the message across to the people on the course but to a wider audience as well.”

To link to the TTC Training Consultants’ website, click here.

Success?

In 2012 around 45,000 drink-drive offenders were referred to Drink Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) courses by the courts, with nearly 24,000 offenders accepting the offer and successfully completing a Drink-Drive course [13].  In 2013, a DfT study assessing the government’s success in reducing re-offending, described DDRS as having “mixed/promising evidence on… their impact on subsequent drink driving offence”. [14]

While a more in-depth DfT evaluation of the drink-driver rehabilitation courses in Great Britain, comparing offenders who attended the course with those who were referred but did not participate in the course, indicated that:

  • Up to 2 years after the initial drink drive conviction, offenders who did not attend a DDRS course were 2.6 times more likely to be convicted for a subsequent drink drive offence compared with offenders who had attended a course;
  • Overall, the study found that attending a DDRS course reduced the likelihood of re-offending for all offenders, regardless of social status, age or gender;
  • An extended period of evaluation (over 5 years) indicated that, in the longer term, those who do not attend the course are about 1.75 times more likely than attendees to be re-convicted for a drink-drive offence.[15]

The primary objective of courses offered under the DDRS is to enable individuals convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to change their behaviour and prevent re-offending. Research by the Transport Research Laboratory has suggested that drink-drive rehabilitation courses have been most successful for:

  • Offenders from the middle social groups;
  • Offenders aged between 30-39 years;
  • Offenders who have been convicted of two drink-drive offences with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between one and two and a half times the legal limit within 10 years.[16]

Sources of further information:

Department for Transport
DVLA
Learning and Skills Development Agency
National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS)
Telford Training Consultants
Transport Research Laboratory


Endnotes

[1] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[2] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[3] TTC Group, Drink-Drive Rehabilitation Course 
[4] TRL, Reconvictions of Drink-Drive Course Attenders: a six year follow up, TRL Report TRL574, 2003
[5] Sir Peter North, The Road Traffic Law Review Report, 1988
[6] NDORS, The Scheme
[7] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[8] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[9] NDORS, Trends and Statistics
[10] Department for Transport, Road safety research report no.66: effective intervention for speeding motorists, 2006
[11] The Road Traffic Act 1991

[12] 
TTC Group, Drink-Drive Rehabilitation Course 
[13] TTC Group, Drink-Drive Rehabilitation Course 
[14] Ministry of Justice, Transforming Rehabilitation: a summary of evidence on reoffending, 2013
[15] Road Safety Observatory, Drink-driving fact page
[16] TRL, Reconvictions of Drink-Drive Course Attenders: a six year follow up, TRL Report TRL574, 2003 

Updated July 2016

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Drug drivers beware: zero-tolerance law in force today welcomed by campaigners

Monday 2 March 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk

A new law against drug driving coming into force today (2 March 2015) has been strongly welcomed by road safety charity Brake, which has been campaigning for the law alongside families bereaved by drug driving. The law will make it a criminal offence to drive with drugs in your body in England and Wales, removing the need to prove impairment and making it much easier to prosecute drug drivers.

The new law has specified zero-tolerance limits for a range of illegal drugs, and will be enforced with the aid of roadside screening devices. Those found guilty will face a maximum six month jail sentence, £5,000 fine, and automatic 12 month driving ban.

The extent of the UK’s drug driving problem was revealed by Brake and Direct Line last year, in their survey finding that the equivalent of one million drivers (3%) admitted to having driven on drugs in the past year. One in nine (11%) said they thought they had been a passenger with a driver on drugs [1]. It's estimated that drug driving may account for as many as 200 deaths a year in the UK [2].

As well as tackling drivers on illegal drugs, the law clarifies the position for drivers using medication, with set limits for a number of prescribed drugs that can affect driving. Drivers taking medication in accordance with the advice of a healthcare professional will not be at risk of arrest.

Brake is reminding drivers that some prescription and over-the-counter medications can make you unsafe on the road, and is urging them to always read the label, or check with their doctor or pharmacist if unsure, and never to drive if their driving may be impaired. A Brake survey in June last year found one in six drivers (17%) either ignore warnings not to drive or do not check at all [3].

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “Drug driving wrecks lives, and it is a crime for which there is no excuse. We are delighted that our long-running campaign for a tougher law is finally seeing success. We believe the government is doing the right thing by taking a zero tolerance approach; we hope this will make it clear that driving on any amount of drugs won’t be tolerated. Anyone tempted to drive on drugs should be in absolutely no doubt of the penalties they face for endangering people’s lives and that it simply isn’t worth the risk. We will continue to campaign for further action to stamp out risky, illegal driving that ends and ruins lives daily. The crucial next step to back up this and other vital life-saving traffic laws is for government to give greater priority to traffic policing, to ensure the recent trend of falling traffic police numbers is reversed.”

The new law is also being welcomed by the family of 14 year old Croydon school girl Lillian Groves, who was killed outside her home by a speeding driver on cannabis in June 2010. Their campaigning was instrumental in securing the change, which is also known as Lillian’s Law.

Lillian’s mum, Natasha Groves, said: “The new law is very welcome. We are pleased the government has taken on board the severity of drug driving and acted accordingly by implementing zero-tolerance limits, roadside drug testing and serious penalties for those found guilty. The legislation is now up to date and fit for purpose. Having to prove impairment will no longer be a matter of judgement, but a testable fact.

When we learnt, in 2011, that this was not already the case, it was incomprehensible. We have fought tirelessly since losing Lillian, and our determination has brought about this significant change. It has been a tough and emotional journey for us all. Lillian is not the only one to have lost her life through the ignorance, arrogance and stupidity of those who mix drugs with driving. Those who continue to drive while on drugs from 2 March will now have so much to lose. We have achieved this law change in Lillian’s name and her legacy will live on and our roads will be that bit safer.”

Find out more about Brake’s not a drop, not a drag campaign. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, #NotADrag.

Facts

Illegal drugs have a variety of very serious negative effects on driving ability, and the effects can be highly unpredictable given their unregulated and variable nature. Drugs affect different people in different ways and the effects can last for days, sometimes without that person being aware of it. The likely effects of some common illegal drugs on driving include:

  • Cannabis slows your reaction times, affects your coordination and concentration and makes you drowsy [4].
  • 'Stimulant' drugs such as ecstasy, speed and cocaine distort your perceptions and make you jumpy. They can also make you over-confident or paranoid and confused [5].
  • Heroin and other opiates make you feel relaxed and sleepy, slowing reaction times and impairing coordination [6].

Historically, levels of drug driving have not been fully recorded, but research suggests that the scale of the problem may be similar to drink-driving. A study by the Transport Research Laboratory found that 18% of drivers and 16% of motorcyclists killed in road crashes had traces of illegal drugs in their system, the most common being cannabis [7]. It's been estimated 200 deaths a year may result from drug driving [8].

As of today (2 March 2015), it is an offence to drive with drugs in your body in England and Wales, regardless of whether impairment is proven. The offence carries a maximum six month jail sentence, maximum £5,000 fine, and automatic 12 month driving ban. Roadside drug testing devices will be used by police to catch drug drivers.

Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can also impair your ability to drive safely, for instance by causing drowsiness or affecting reactions times, coordination, concentration or vision. These include some cough and cold medicines, anti-inflammatories, anti-histamines, antibiotics, antidepressants, epilepsy drugs and sleeping pills [9].

Brake’s advice 

  • Never risk taking illegal drugs and driving. Their effects are unpredictable, but research shows they can have a disastrous impact on your ability to drive safely. Drugs and alcohol is an especially deadly combination.
  • It is impossible to judge how impaired you are or if a friend is impaired, so if you or a mate has been taking drugs, you should assume you're unfit to drive, even if you feel okay.
  • The effects of drugs can last a long time. They can also badly disrupt sleep and make you a risk behind the wheel for days as a result. That's why you can't have illegal drugs and driving in your life at the same time without posing a danger to yourself and others.
  • When taking any medication you should always check the label to see if it could affect your ability to drive. If the label says your driving could be affected, it could make you drowsy, or not to drive if you feel drowsy, then assume you could be impaired and don't drive on it. If you are unsure if your medication could affect driving, consult your doctor or pharmacist. Never drive if the label or a health professional recommends you don't, or says you could be affected, or if you feel drowsy or slow.
  • If your medication affects your driving, stop driving, not your medication – make arrangements for alternative transport, or if you need to drive seek an alternative medication.

Brake

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 campaignscommunity 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.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

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.

End notes

[1] Public urged to speak out to stop the UK’s million drug drivers, Brake, 2014 http://www.brake.org.uk/news/1254-dl-drugdrive-aug14
[2] Driving under the influence of drugs: report from the expert panel on drug driving, Department for Transport, 2013
[3] Drivers clueless about dangers of over-the-counter drugs as hayfever season starts, Brake, 2014 http://www.brake.org.uk/news/1237-dlmedication-jun14
[4] A-Z of Drugs: Cannabis, Talk to Frank www.talktofrank.com 
[5] A-Z of Drugs: Cocaine, Ecstasy, Speed, Talk to Frank www.talktofrank.com 
[6] A-Z of Drugs: Heroin, Talk to Frank www.talktofrank.com 
[7] The Incidence of Drugs and Alcohol in Road Accident Fatalities, Transport Research Laboratory, 2000
[8] Driving under the influence of drugs: report from the expert panel on drug driving, Department for Transport, 2013
[9] State of the road: medication and driving, Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland, 2011

Gloucester widow receives national road safety award for successful campaign to crackdown on disqualified drivers who kill

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

The widow of a Gloucester man mown down and killed by a disqualified motorcyclist in 2012 has received a national road safety award for her successful campaign for tougher sentences for disqualified drivers who kill and seriously injure.

Mandy Stock was presented with the Campaigner of the Year Award by road safety charity Brakeat their annual reception at the Houses of Parliament last night (27 January), supported by Direct Line. The event marked the beginning of Brake’s 20th anniversary year.

Mandy’s husband, Paul Stock, then 53, was killed while walking near his home when he was hit by disqualified motorcyclist Graham Godwin. Godwin was speeding, had falsely insured his motorcycle, and was a serial offender with 12 previous convictions for driving without insurance, nine for driving while disqualified and three for drink-driving. He was sentenced to just 18 months for causing the death of Paul Stock while disqualified – the maximum the judge, who described Godwin as "an absolute menace", could give him because he pleaded guilty.

Mandy was appalled by the weakness of the sentence, and immediately started campaigning for a change in the law that would allow disqualified drivers who kill to be given more appropriate sentences, with a similar maximum to that available for dangerous driving. This echoed the view of road safety charity Brake, who argue that disqualified, unlicensed and uninsured drivers should automatically be considered ‘dangerous’ in the eyes of the law.

Mandy launched two online petitions and wrote open letters in the press, soon securing the support of her local MP, Richard Graham, who was also recognised with an award from Brake for his role in the campaign. With Richard’s help, Mandy met with both Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Prime Minister David Cameron in 2013, and both were receptive to her campaign.

Finally, in May 2014,Chris Grayling announced that the maximum sentence for causing death by driving while disqualified will rise from two to 10 years, with a maximum of four years for causing serious injuries. The Justice Secretary also announced a wider review of driving offences, which is ongoing and has been welcomed by Brake, other campaigning families and MPs.

Brake campaigns for tougher sentences for drivers who kill and injure through itscrackdown campaign, alongside higher penalties to deter risky driving behaviour, and increased traffic policing. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, #Crackdown.

Ed Morrow, campaigns officer, Brake, said:“The change in the law announced in May is a testament to the hard work and determination Mandy has shown in fighting this injustice after the tragic death of her husband. Disqualified drivers have no right to be on the road; if they kill or injure someone, it inflicts needless devastation as the result of a deliberate and illegal choice, and the penalty must reflect that. That's why tackling woefully inadequate sentences for these selfish individuals has been a cornerstone of Brake's crackdown campaign, and we are delighted to recognise the huge role Mandy has played in achieving such a positive result. We will continue to work alongside victims and their families to secure better justice for those affected by criminal driving.”

Mandy Stock said: “I am delighted to receive this award, which was totally unexpected. I am thankful for those who have helped and supported me, especially my brilliant sister, Sue. The law failed us, and it was obvious to us that the law had to change. Thankfully, the people in a position to change things listened, and steps have been taken to close a massive loophole and tackle disqualified repeat offenders like the one who killed my husband. However, we are still campaigning to increase penalties for driving while disqualified. We need to ensure these offenders are taken off the road before they kill or injure innocent victims, to make the roads safer for everyone.”

Notes for editors:

Brake

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 campaignscommunity 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.

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com.

Government figures show ongoing lack of justice following devastating road deaths and injuries

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk

Brake, the road safety charity, has renewed calls for tougher charges and penalties for drivers who kill and injure following the publication of government criminal justice figures for 2013 [1]. The figures show the large proportion of drivers who kill and seriously injure being let off with relatively low penalties, reinforcing the importance of a forthcoming review of charges and penalties, recently announced by government.

In total, 438 drivers were convicted of causing death or bodily harm. Just over half (55%) were given immediate prison sentences, up slightly from 54% in 2012 [2]. Only one in seven (14%) were given more than five years in prison, a small increase from one in ten (10%) in 2012 [3]. See previous years' figures.

Reacting, Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "These figures come as a reminder that sentences for drivers who kill and seriously injure do not reflect the atrocious suffering of victim families, many of whom feel deeply let down by the justice system. While the slight increase in higher-level sentences is encouraging, it does not go nearly far enough. We still see drivers who have killed through their risky actions being inappropriately charged with causing death by 'careless driving' and receiving low sentences as a result – one of the key issues that must be addressed in the forthcoming government review. We also need to see fines for more common driving offences that pose a danger, like speeding and mobile phone use, rise dramatically to provide an effective deterrent."

The figures show that in 2013:

  • 125 were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving (which has a maximum penalty of 14 years), with almost all (96%) given immediate prison sentences but only one third (33%) given more than five years.
  • 33 were convicted of causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs (which has a maximum penalty of 14 years), with almost all (94%) given immediate prison sentences but less than three in five (58%) given more than five years.
  • 215 were convicted of causing death by careless driving (which has a maximum penalty of five years), with only one in three (30%) given immediate prison sentences.
  • 31 were convicted of the new charge of causing injury by dangerous driving (which has a maximum penalty of five years), with half (52%) given immediate prison sentences.

The average fine for driving offences remained unchanged in real terms, at £214 in 2009 prices. By comparison, the fine for not having a TV licence is £1,000.

Brake and Direct Line's recent survey found strong public support for tougher penalties for drivers who kill and injure; the majority say those who kill while taking illegal risks such as drink driving, speeding, or using a mobile phone should be considered 'dangerous', not 'careless', and get five years or more in prison.

Find out more about Brake's Crackdown campaign and charges and penalties. Tweet us @Brakecharity, #Crackdown.

Brake
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, a Fleet Safety Forum, practitioner services, 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.

End notes
[1] Criminal Justice Statistics 2013 – England and Wales, Ministry of Justice, 2014
[2] ibid
[3] Causing death by driving (2012), RoadPeace, 2013 http://www.roadpeace.org/resources/RoadPeace_Causing_death_by_driving_2012.pdf

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

One year on and still no sign of tougher sentences for killer drivers

News from Brake
Monday 15 October 2018
news@brake.org.uk
 
Road safety campaigners across the country remain perplexed by the Government’s refusal to deliver justice for the victims and bereaved families of road crashes. Exactly one year on from the announcement of tougher sentences for drivers who kill and seriously injure [1], the Government has failed to bring forward legislation and Brake, the road safety charity, and families of road crash victims across the UK are still waiting for justice.
 
On 15 October 2017, the Ministry of Justice announced plans for killer drivers to face life behind bars, following successful campaigning from Brake on behalf of road crash victims. Life sentences are to be introduced for those who cause death by dangerous driving or cause death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, and a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving will be created.
 
One year on from the announcement, and despite repeated questioning in the House of Commons by Bradford South MP Judith Cummins – Brake’s Parliamentarian of the Year and a vocal campaigner on tackling dangerous driving [2] - the Justice Minister has been unable to say when the tougher sentences would be implemented [3], stating that they would be incorporated with the findings of government’s review of cycle safety [4], a process with no end in sight and one which is taking a fundamentally flawed approach to road justice reform [5].
 
Commenting on the delay in implementation, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:
 
“It is completely unacceptable that these new tougher sentences have not yet been implemented. 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.”
 
[ENDS]
 
Notes to editors:
[3] Ministry of Justice response to Written Question from Judith Cummins MP, Bradford South.
Dangerous Driving: Sentencing, Commons, 137592: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the press release entitled Life sentences for killer drivers, published by his Department on 15 October 2017, what progress he has made on (a) implementing an increase to the maximum penalty for the offences of causing death by (i) dangerous driving and (ii) careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs to life imprisonment and (b) creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.
Answered by: Rory Stewart MP, Justice Minister, on 27 April 2018
The government is committed to making sure that the courts have sufficient powers to deal with driving offences appropriately and proportionately. We will bring forward proposals for changes in the law as soon as parliamentary time allows. 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.
 
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.

Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham

rehman chishtiRehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, has been given a national road safety award by the charity Brake and Direct Line Group for his work campaigning for tougher penalties for repeat drink drivers.

Rehman launched his campaign after concerns were raised about the high numbers of drivers being caught and the inadequacy of criminal sanctions for those who persistently drink and drive. During one month, in Christmas 2012, more than 220 people were caught over the limit in Kent and Medway.

Working to promote the issue in Parliament, Rehman tabled a Drink Driving (Repeat Offenders) Bill on 3 July 2013. His Bill calls for drivers to receive a prison sentence of up to two years if convicted for a third time or more. Currently the maximum sentence a drink driver can receive (unless they cause a death or serious injury) is six months in prison, no matter how many times they offend. Rehman's Bill received an unopposed first reading, and a second reading of the Bill is scheduled for the 22 November 2013.

Rehman has also discussed the Bill and the issue of drink driving with the road safety minister Stephen Hammond and justice minister Jeremy Wright, and asked for government support.

He has also raised awareness of his campaign in the media, by appearing on BBC's World At One, BBC News, BBC London and BBC Radio Kent to argue for the Bill.

In September, in response to annual figures showing a 17% rise in drink drive deaths, Rehman wrote a passionate letter to The Times arguing the courts need more powers to tackle persistent drink-drivers, which would be addressed by his Bill.

Rehman continues to gather support for his Bill in the run up to the second reading on 22 November and is committed to achieving a change in legislation. He has also offered his support to Brake in its wider work to prevent road deaths and injuries and make streets safer, including his endorsement of national Road Safety Week 2013 (18-24 November).

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: "Brake fully endorses Rehman's campaign. Tougher penalties help to deter people from breaking vital safety laws, which is critical in reducing the number of people tragically killed or hurt on our roads. Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on UK roads: it's an abhorrent crime that continues to end and ruin lives daily, and our laws should reflect that. We need to send a strong message that society will not tolerate the dreadful suffering caused by drink driving. We are delighted to recognise Rehman's determined hard work raising awareness and pushing for change on this issue, and will continue to support his efforts until we see a change in the law."

Rehman Chishti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham said: "I am honoured to be named as the Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month. Too many people are still being killed or seriously injured on our roads as a result of drinking and driving. To tackle those who persist in drinking and driving, we need to give the courts the additional powers they need.
"This award will help to focus attention on this very important road safety issue and I would like to thank Brake for supporting this campaign."