Brake’s Roads to Justice campaigners hand in petitions at Downing Street calling for stronger criminal driving laws

25 October 2016 
news@brake.org.uk

Two families involved in Brake’s Roads to Justice campaign will be heading to London on Thursday to hand over their Change.org petitions, both of which have reached an impressive 100,000 signatures.

Richard and Ceinwen Briddon from West Wales and Lorraine Allaway from Long Preston near Skipton will hand their petitions in to 10 Downing Street as they campaign for tougher criminal driving laws.

Richard and Ceinwen’s daughter Miriam Briddon, a 21-year-old university student, was killed instantly when a drunk driver veered onto her side of the road. The driver was charged with causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol. He was jailed for five years, and will serve just two and a half years in prison.

Lorraine’s husband Robert was killed by a drink-driver while riding his motorbike in the Yorkshire Dales. The driver was two and a half times over the legal blood-alcohol limit and on the wrong side of the road when he hit Robert. He was jailed for four years and eight months, so will be out of prison and free to continue living his life in just two and a half years.

A Brake survey conducted in July 2016 found that 91% of people questioned agreed that drivers on drink or drugs who kill should be charged with manslaughter, which carries a possible life sentence. At present almost half of drivers convicted of killing are not jailed at all [i]. The average prison sentence for a driver who has killed someone is less than four years[ii].

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said: “As we have witnessed far too often, there are too many families, like the Allaways and the Briddons, who suffer the loss of a loved one in devastating circumstances, and then witness our judicial system turning their back on them.

“The petition handover shows that the public are behind us, with both petitions gaining a huge amount of support. The Prime Minister has already told us we will be getting a review into criminal driving this year. Her government must now give us a definite timetable for action to avoid any more families suffering terrible injustices.”

Lorraine Allaway said: “I am hoping to get a debate regarding sentences for criminal drivers who kill when I hand over my petition on Thursday. I vowed on the day my husband’s killer was sentenced that I would campaign to get the law changed regarding sentencing of drivers who kill vulnerable road users and I will continue to campaign until the sentencing for these drivers has been changed.”

Richard and Ceinwen Briddon said: “We named the petition ‘A Moment for Miriam’ as we were asking people to take a moment of their time to read about Miriam and to sign our petition. The amount of signatures we received in a just two months was phenomenal. We are truly amazed at how quickly we crossed the 100,000 mark and we are very grateful to everyone that has signed and shared our campaign.

“We will never have justice for Miriam. The present sentencing guidelines and the law is an insult to her life and a disgrace to us left behind to pick up the pieces. When an innocent life is taken, the punishment should reflect the seriousness of the crime. 

“We are calling on the government to review and change the guidelines that determine sentencing of drink drivers that kill.”

[ENDS]

Notes to Editors:

Brake’s director of campaigns and communications Gary Rae will be accompanying Richard and Ceinwen Briddon and Lorraine Allaway for the handover at 2pm on Thursday 27 October, outside No 10 Downing Street.

About Roads to Justice

Deaths and serious injuries on our roads cause terrible suffering every day. Families often suffer three times over: a loved one dies or endures appalling injuries; the offender gets away with a pitiful penalty; and shattered victims fail to get the help and support they need.

Drivers who kill or maim all too often receive lenient sentences. We need the government to redefine criminal driving: drivers who pose a serious threat must face serious charges and serious penalties. We also need solid investment in road-traffic policing, to crack down on dangerous drivers and enforce the law. 

Support for road-crash victims is a grossly under-funded area. When someone dies in a crash, their mum, dad, wife, husband, partner, brother, sister, daughter or son are often left to struggle through their loss alone. We need the government to invest in specialist support, offering prompt and comprehensive help to families when the worst has happened.

That is why Brake launched Roads to Justice, calling for tougher charges and penalties that reflect the suffering caused; investment in road-traffic policing; and for government-funded support for road crash victims whose loved ones have been violently killed or have suffered life-changing injuries. 

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.

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

[ii] Criminal justice system statistics: motoring pivot table analytical tool for England and Wales, Ministry of Justice, 2015