Road deaths and injuries shatter lives, destroy families and devastate communities.
The ‘Fix our Broken Justice System’ campaign has been launched by RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, to:
- Raise public awareness about the way the justice system has failed families bereaved by road crashes and victims who have been injured in collisions on the UK’s roads
- Urge the Government to make vital changes to the law to prevent road crime, increase general deterrence against road traffic offending, ensure that adequate sentencing is passed and provide better protection and compassion for road crash victims and bereaved families during the justice process
More than twice as many people are killed on the UK’s roads each year than as a result of murder and terrorism combined.
People who kill with guns, knives and other lethal weapons get long custodial sentences – sending out strong messages to society that violent offences will not be tolerated, and deterring future offenders.
But in contrast, dangerous drivers who kill or seriously injure innocent people get far shorter custodial sentences, and some avoid jail altogether. Many of these offenders were speeding excessively, under the influence of drink or drugs, using a mobile phone at the wheel and driving recklessly, and many had previous motoring convictions, yet went on to kill.
In June 2022, it was announced that the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, would be increased from 14 years to life imprisonment. The new and revised guidelines came into effect on July 1, 2023.
Since then, many drivers have been sentenced in the courts for these offences, following the most appalling examples of driving with multiple aggravating features, and yet the courts have yet to impose a life sentence. The sentences did not even come close to the previous maximum sentence of 14 years.
The Fix our Broken Justice System campaign was launched on BBC Breakfast, on Monday September 25, 2023, with the support of four bereaved families who shared their stories of loss at the hands of dangerous drivers, and of the lenient jail sentences that were handed down to the offenders.
We are left wondering – What exactly does an offender have to do to get a life sentence?
What the campaign is calling for
- Longer sentences for dangerous drivers – Since July 2023, lifetime jail sentences can be imposed for causing death by dangerous driving. Given the long-standing issue of lenient sentencing, we are calling for greater use of these new powers
- Lifetime driving bans – Courts have the powers to impose lifetime driving bans, so why aren’t they? Why should somebody who has killed on our roads through their reckless actions, ever be legally allowed to drive again? Driving is a privilege, not a right
- Immediate suspension of driving licences following a fatal or serious crash – Agencies should have the power to suspend driving licences immediately after a fatal or serious crash until the conclusion of legal proceedings
- Tighten the conditions for exceptional hardship – The exceptional hardship defence should only be granted in truly exceptional circumstances
- Stricter and more robust system for drivers – Treat road crime as real crime. Ensure that dangerous drivers are dealt with appropriately at the outset and prevented from becoming repeat road traffic offenders
- Put victims’ rights first – Laws must be designed with compassion for the victims and bereaved families, taking their rights into account, rather than the offender’s rights