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

News from Brake
Monday 15 October 2018
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.”
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.

Tags: Drink-Drive sentencing dangerous driving roads to justice road crash ministry of justice drug-drive careless driving