Tomasz Kroker sentencing highlights need for criminal driving law changes

31 October 2016

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling for urgent changes to criminal driving laws after a lorry driver was jailed for killing a mum and three children when he crashed because he was looking at his mobile phone. 

Tomasz Kroker was today sentenced to 10 years in prison at Reading Crown Court.

He was scrolling through music on his phone when his lorry smashed into a stationary car. 45-year-old Tracey Houghton and her two sons Ethan, 13, and Joshua, aged 11, all died. Tracey's partner's daughter Aimee Goldsmith, aged 11, was also killed. Aimee's dad and brother witnessed the crash, as they were travelling in a car behind.

The judge in the case said Kroker hadn't been paying attention for around a kilometre and that his attention was so poor he "might as well have had his eyes closed."

Brake, the road safety charity, is already calling for a full review of charging, sentencing and guidelines with its Roads to Justice campaign

The charity also wants to see hands-free calls banned and restrictions on the use of in-car-app enabling screens.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "There could be no more shocking example of why using a mobile phone behind the wheel is so dangerous. This was no ‘accident’ but four lives violently ended by a criminal driver who wasn't looking at the road. A 10-year sentence, of which he will probably serve just five, doesn’t begin to do justice to the grieving families. We need action from the government now; prison sentences for criminal drivers who kill must be strengthened. We need increased penalties for illegal phone use behind the wheel and hands-free calls must also be banned. We also need more investment in road traffic policing, so drivers breaking mobile-phone laws know they will be caught and punished."

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 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.

Tags: sentencing mobile phone distraction