82% Support Harsher Road Death Sentences

Vast Majority Of The Public Supports Increased Penalties For People Who Kill Others On The Road

21.03.2014

A new study from road safety charity Brake has found the majority of the public support new tougher penalties for drivers that kill other motorists or pedestrians.

Overall, 82 per cent of those surveyed in a study of 1,000 drivers across the UK said they wanted to see tougher prison sentences for those involved in fatal accidents.

A further 81 per cent thought that any death on the road should be classified as "dangerous" rather than "careless" under UK law. At present those convicted of the latter are given shorter sentences and often escape prison time.

Nearly all of those surveyed (95 per cent) believe that penalties should be tougher for those who flee the scene, with the majority of motorists believing this makes the crime the driver has committed even worse.

However, despite public support for stronger sentencing, only 62 per cent of those convicted of killing someone through risky driving are sent to prison, while fewer than ten per cent are given more than five years in jail.

Brake has called for an end to leniency towards dangerous drivers and believes the judicial system should be overhauled in order to ensure that a deterrence is in place for those that put others in danger.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "We want the government to acknowledge how inadequate current charges and penalties are and take action to prevent traumatised families suffering further insult.

"Denying justice to victim families often has a terrible impact on their ability to rebuild and move forward with their lives. Brake bears witness to the consequences for these vulnerable families every day through its support services for bereaved and injured crash victims."

Ms Townsend added that MPs must take her charity's complaints seriously as the voices of bereaved families cannot continue to be ignored.

The government claims that its policies on reducing road deaths are effective, citing figures showing that the number of people killed in crashes has reduced over the last decade.

Expert Opinion
While the number of people killed and seriously injured on roads in Britain has fallen in recent years, the number of deaths or injuries remains high.

"The results of this poll highlight the strength of feeling which emerges when it comes to the issue of road safety and it cannot be denied that those who have failed to conform to the rules of the road – in a manner which has led to serious or fatal injuries – should be held to account.

"It is time that the concerns raised by the public in this survey are carefully reviewed by authorities. If harsher sentences encourage more people to focus on the issue of using roads safely, it can only be a good thing."
Neil Whiteley, Partner