Two thirds of drivers back tougher sentences for death by dangerous driving

Two thirds of drivers back tougher sentences for death by dangerous driving
Almost two thirds (65%) of motorists want to see those that cause death by dangerous driving given a sentence lasting more than 14 years.1

Some 40% of drivers believe courts should have the power to hand out life sentences for the crime, while 25% consider a sentence between 15 years and life to be more suitable.

Just 16% felt the current maximum term of 14 years is sufficient, while 18% are unsure whether the punishment should change, according to an RAC survey of 2,800 drivers.

A Private Members’ Bill urging politicians to extend the maximum sentence will be read in Parliament for the second time today.

It follows former Prime Minister Theresa May’s efforts to introduce the ‘Violet-Grace Law’ with a Bill made in memory of a four-year-old child who was killed by a motorist driving at over 80mph in a 30mph zone.

The offender was jailed for nine years and four months in 2017 but may be released as early as next year.

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “Drivers we surveyed are crystal clear in their belief that the current maximum sentence that courts can hand down for causing death by dangerous driving is insufficient and doesn’t reflect just how devasting these crimes are.”

Police forces in England and Wales recorded 555 deaths and serious injuries because of dangerous driving in the year to March 2020.2

Mr Williams added: “While Britain might have some of the safest roads in Europe, it is an horrendous thought that each year more than 500 drivers in England and Wales are convicted of killing others as a result of their decision to drive dangerously.

“Permitting courts to issue much tougher sentences will send a strong message to motorists and will go some way towards reassuring families of victims killed in collisions that the law is on their side.”

The spokesman expressed his disappointment that intentions to introduce stronger sentences back in 2017 have made little progress.

He said: “This Bill is so important – we may still be some way off the Violet-Grace amendment being made, but many people up and down the country will be interested to see the progress that it makes in the hope that one day soon those convicted of these truly terrible crimes will have to spend much longer behind bars.”

To follow the progress of Theresa May MP’s ‘Death by Dangerous Driving (Sentencing) Bill 2019-21’, visit the website.


1 2,800 drivers surveyed by the RAC in September 2020
2 Source: Police recorded crime by offence, year ending March 2003 to year ending March 2020, Table A4 (ONS). Figures for England and Wales, excluding Greater Manchester Police
Originally published on the RAC Media Centre
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