This post has developed out of a Guardian article that I encountered this morning and that set me thinking about this matter. This is the first of several posts that I shall be putting up today.
The story is about two friends who were hit by a guy driving at 101mph (approx 162.5kph for those who work in metric). One survived and tells this story, the other did not. The cause of this tragedy initially tried to deny his guilt, and was ultimately convicted of causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving. Here is a link to and screenshot of the article:
THIS PARTICULAR CASE
First of all, I draw your attention to what is for the purposes of this post the most important paragraph of the whole article:
I endorse this paragraph 100%. In view of the circumstances of this case (he was racing a mate along an urban road) there could be little justification for imposing other than the maximum sentence, which for manslaughter is life imprisonment. The judge would then have to impose a minimum term of years before the criminal could be released. Additionally, if you have been given a life sentence with a minimum term you are not fully released, you are let out on licence, which means that any subsequent offence however minor sees you back inside.
MOTORING OFFENCES IN GENERAL
Before writing this section I point out that I am a lifelong non-driver, and have never even had so much as a solitary lesson, let alone taking a test. UK courts are consistent in imposing punishments on drivers that are not appropriate for the offence and that are too lenient. Here are some ideas:
- Killings committed while at the wheel should be treated every bit as seriously as killings in other circumstances – if there is evidence of intent they should be treated as murder, otherwise as manslaughter.
- Actions such as drink driving, serious speeding and using the mobile while at the wheel should result in automatic driving bans as well as other punishments deemed appropriate by the courts
- People putting themselves behind the wheel when banned should be treated as an offence as serious as that that incurred the ban in the first place.
- Release from a custodial sentence imposed for killing while at the wheel should be accompanied by a warning that if the offender puts themselves behind the wheel again they will be straight back inside.
- Drivers banned for a limited term as opposed to permanently should be required to take a driving test to get their licence back and there should be strict limits on how many times they can fail that test before losing their chance to get the licence back.
MORE ABOUT HARRIET BARNSLEY
Harriet Barnsley blogs about her recovery from this horrific incident (given the driver’s behaviour the word accident is not appropriate) at thistooshallpass464, which I urge you to visit. Here is a link to one of her posts.