The Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill currently before parliament has garnered a lot of media attention and sparked the ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstrations, due to amendments allowing for new police powers on protests.
Lesser known within the bill are amendments to the Road Traffic Act. The Ministry of Justice in 2017 promised three amendments to the Road Traffic Act, which have now been included within the bill:
- Increasing maximum custodial sentence for Causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life
- Increasing maximum custodial sentence for Causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence to life
- Introducing a new charge for Causing serious injury by careless driving
Whilst RoadPeace is cautiously supportive of these amendments, we have for a long time called for a wider review of road traffic offences. This was promised in 2014 by the then Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, but has not yet happened.
Following the piecemeal changes promised in 2017, RoadPeace called for:
- Review of careless and dangerous driving legal definition and charging standards to ensure these are fit for purpose and complements government’s commitment to promoting active travel
- Recognition of road death and injury in road traffic offences, particularly with leaving the scene
We want reform for all – not just the very worst offenders, police drivers or with offenders on cycles – so that the justice system recognises the toll of death and injury and deals with it appropriately.
RoadPeace has joined British Cycling, Living Streets, and Road Danger Reduction Forum in supporting Cycling UK’s Five Flaws: Failing Laws report, which outlines why the UK urgently needs the wider review of road traffic offences and penalties.
The RAC Foundation, road safety charity Brake, the AA, the RAC, and PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) have also supported the need for a wider review of road traffic laws.
As outlined by Cycling UK, the charity’s Five Flaws report illustrates how amendments to the Bill could address:
- The underuse of driving disqualifications to protect the public from bad drivers.
- The ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole that keeps letting bad drivers who should be disqualified back on the road.
- ‘Hit and run’ sanctions that aren’t tough enough to stop drivers fleeing the scene of a collision when they know, or ought to know, that they’ve seriously hurt or killed someone.*
- A belittling penalty for ‘car-dooring’, an offence that can leave victims dead or seriously injured.
- The confusing definitions of ‘careless’ and ‘dangerous’ driving.
MPs will have a chance to discuss and table amendments to the PCSB at the report stage, which is expected to be in early July.
*As part of the future work involving the bill, RoadPeace will be working to remove the word ‘accident’ from the legislation around ‘hit and run’ sanctions.
Updated on: 30 June 2021