Despite the fact that road deaths have barely reduced since 2010, the number of drivers being prosecuted for Causing death by driving offences has seen a sharp drop of 17% in just the last year:
So fewer drivers are being prosecuted for causing a death, yet there is no evidence that this is due to safer driving and increased compliance with traffic law. RoadPeace’s fear is that lethal lawbreaking is escaping detection and prosecution, and justice is being denied.
Causing death by dangerous driving prosecutions are getting downgraded to Causing death by careless driving
Causing death by dangerous driving and Causing death by careless driving account for 91% of all causing death by driving offences. However, whilst prosecutions for Causing death by careless driving fell by 30% (down 70), Causing death by dangerous driving prosecutions only fell by 4% (down 10)
By contrast, with convictions, Causing death by dangerous driving declined more, with an 18% fall (down 34), than Causing Death by Careless Driving which only had a 1% decrease in convictions (down 2). This suggests significant numbers of drivers charged with Causing death by dangerous driving were convicted of Causing Death by Careless Driving.
RoadPeace’s report last year, Causing death by careless driving—10 years on, showed more prosecutions for causing death, including with causing death by dangerous driving.
Sanctions also varied 2017-18, with an alarmingly high number of drivers who kill not receiving the mandatory driving ban
Of those convicted, 59% were sent to prison, including 94% for Causing death by dangerous driving and 26% for Causing Death by Careless Driving.
Average custodial sentences for Causing death by dangerous driving increased from 57 to 64 months; and for Causing Death by Careless Driving decreased from 15 to 12 months.
While most drivers (93%) were banned (this is supposed to be mandatory), 25 drivers (7%) were not:
The 2018 court data released by the Ministry of Justice reinforces some long standing calls for RoadPeace.
Victoria Lebrec, RoadPeace Campaign Coordinator and crash victim, said ‘What we are seeing is that families who have lost a loved one in the worst possible way, then find they cannot get justice. For all prosecutions to have dropped by nearly 20% in one year is absolutely staggering, and for 7% of convicted drivers who kill to not receive the mandatory driving ban is totally unacceptable. The offences and sentencing guidelines in existence for drivers that cause a death are not fit for purpose and urgently need to be reviewed. The comprehensive review promised in 2014 has not happened. At a minimum, the CPS can update their charging standards and the Sentencing Council can update their guidelines as both are long overdue.