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Charity responds to government's proposals to introduce life imprisonment in most serious cases...

The national charity Cycling UK says that longer bans from driving should accompany government proposals unveiled at the weekend to introduce tougher prison sentences for motorists who kill or cause serious injury to other road users.

The national cycling charity has also repeated its call for a full review of all road traffic offences, and has urged the government to “lay out a clear commitment and timescale for its proposals to consider driver disqualifications.”

As we reported on Saturday, drivers who kill where there are aggravating circumstances, such as being drunk, speeding or using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel, may face life imprisonment under government plans.

> Drivers who kill now face life behind bars

But Cycling UK, which has the support of organisations including RoadPeace and RoSPA, points out that while in 2014 former secretary of state for justice Chris Grayling outlined plans for a full review of all road traffic offences, the consultation eventually launched in December 2016, only considered those resulting in serious injury or death.

The charity’s head of advocacy and campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, said: “Longer sentencing is not the only answer for drivers who kill.

“A mistake while driving is one of the few activities which can see an otherwise law-abiding citizen’s actions result in death or serious injury for a fellow road user.

“In such cases, custodial sentencing is not always the answer, but the use of longer and life driving bans are.”

He added: “Cycling UK is pleased to see government is considering driving bans as an option, but we urge them to make their commitment clearer and establish a clear timeline for consultation.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

15 comments

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Edgeley [510 posts] 1 month ago
14 likes

Cycling UK are quite right.  There won't be many long sentences for bad drivers, not least because of prison over-crowding and because juries won't convict unless there is clear and proven malice on the part of the perp.

What we need is to get bad drivers off the roads.

 

The other thing we need is more policemen out there.   Long sentencing is almost an admission that we can't deter through the certainty of being caught.

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Grahamd [748 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes
Edgeley wrote:

Cycling UK are quite right.  There won't be many long sentences for bad drivers, not least because of prison over-crowding and because juries won't convict unless there is clear and proven malice on the part of the perp.

What we need is to get bad drivers off the roads.

 

The other thing we need is more policemen out there.   Long sentencing is almost an admission that we can't deter through the certainty of being caught.

Understand where you are coming from, I would like to see juries given every chance to experience the incident, in a similar manner as you see in some other cases. Put the jurors on a bike to gain a better understanding of how the victim may have felt. 

I've done jury service and it felt very alien to me, somewhat isolated from the real world.

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kraut [154 posts] 1 month ago
4 likes
Edgeley wrote:

Cycling UK are quite right.  There won't be many long sentences for bad drivers, not least because of prison over-crowding and because juries won't convict unless there is clear and proven malice on the part of the perp.

What we need is to get bad drivers off the roads.

 

The other thing we need is more policemen out there.   Long sentencing is almost an admission that we can't deter through the certainty of being caught.

Agree completely. We need way more enforcement. And bans are easier to get past a jury than a prison sentence.

 

Where we do need - perhaps even mandatory - prison sentences is for driving while banned.

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RMurphy195 [117 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

A driver is an individual. When we have self-driving vehicles will this mean that all vehicles of the same type or with the same software/sensor setup be banned?

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Nixster [382 posts] 1 month ago
6 likes

Its still not clear to me why someone who has killed or seriously injured someone through dangerous driving should ever get 'their' licence back.

Even in the case of careless driving, there should be a presumption that someone who has killed or injured as a result of their criminal action should not have their licence returned.   Perhaps if they have demonstrated their suitability through, say, an extended period of retraining plus passing a more stringent driving test including some sort of behavioural assessment.

I can't think of another field where the current approach would be applied.  'Whoops you have criminally killed someone, hang on a bit and you can have another go' Doctors?  Nurses? Airline pilots? Owners of Indian restaurants?  I don't think so.

This just seems like basic common sense, I'm obviously not getting something.

 

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WolfieSmith [1386 posts] 1 month ago
3 likes

It is basic common sense - but common sense isn’t as common as it should be. 

I signed an online petition recently on the GOV site posted by a father whose daughter was run down at a bus stop in Norfolk by a driver who was then convicted of dangerous driving. As it stands,  said driver will be out in 7 years and back on the road in 12 years. The father was asking for a life ban for drivers who take a life and are then  convicted of  dangerous and reckless driving.  Sounds pretty simple to me. Depressingly, the petition was nowhere near the minimum numbers needed to go to the house.

Personally speaking, if I killed someone while willfully disobeying a speed limit or driving like an idiot , in a logical world,  I would accept that I should never get my licence back. 

This latest step is progress. I’m optimistic that the Age of Entitlement is drawing to a close but it’s sloooww progress.  

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oldstrath [919 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

The only useful change would be to remove juries from these cases. Most of them will be drivers, generally poor ones because most drivers are, so will judge the killer against their own inadequate standards. Add to that the sympathy most judges will have for " nice, decent, remorseful people" it's impossible to imagine anyone will ever receive these "enhanced punishments".

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PRSboy [94 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

The thing I don't get is that even with a six point penalty, enough to make insurance difficult and very expensive, I still frequently see folk on mobiles at the wheel.

I live on a 30mph village road, and frequently see vehicles travelling at 50mph+.  Again, 6 points and a massive fine under the post Apr 17 rules.

So either they don't think they'll get caught, or don't realise what the penalty is.

Either way, not sure that penalties are the answer, other than simply removing a crap road user from the road.

Surely the thought that you might kill or seriously injure someone should be enough for you to drive (or ride) well, and within the law?

I did attend a speed awareness course for an ahem minor infringement a few years ago, it was interesting to see the attitudes of the attendees.  Some were just angry they were caught, thought the whole thing was stupid, they were master drivers blah blah.  Others said actually, fair enough, I've learned something today.

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Sniffer [443 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes
PRSboy wrote:

The thing I don't get is that even with a six point penalty, enough to make insurance difficult and very expensive, I still frequently see folk on mobiles at the wheel.

I live on a 30mph village road, and frequently see vehicles travelling at 50mph+.  Again, 6 points and a massive fine under the post Apr 17 rules.

So either they don't think they'll get caught, or don't realise what the penalty is.

Either way, not sure that penalties are the answer, other than simply removing a crap road user from the road.

Surely the thought that you might kill or seriously injure someone should be enough for you to drive (or ride) well, and within the law?

I did attend a speed awareness course for an ahem minor infringement a few years ago, it was interesting to see the attitudes of the attendees.  Some were just angry they were caught, thought the whole thing was stupid, they were master drivers blah blah.  Others said actually, fair enough, I've learned something today.

They don't believe they will be caught.  Therefore the penalties won't happen and hence can be ignored.

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oldstrath [919 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
PRSboy wrote:

The thing I don't get is that even with a six point penalty, enough to make insurance difficult and very expensive, I still frequently see folk on mobiles at the wheel.

I live on a 30mph village road, and frequently see vehicles travelling at 50mph+.  Again, 6 points and a massive fine under the post Apr 17 rules.

So either they don't think they'll get caught, or don't realise what the penalty is.

Either way, not sure that penalties are the answer, other than simply removing a crap road user from the road.

Surely the thought that you might kill or seriously injure someone should be enough for you to drive (or ride) well, and within the law?

I did attend a speed awareness course for an ahem minor infringement a few years ago, it was interesting to see the attitudes of the attendees.  Some were just angry they were caught, thought the whole thing was stupid, they were master drivers blah blah.  Others said actually, fair enough, I've learned something today.

Something I've never known -  can you fail a speed awareness course, and are there penalties if you do? Or is it just turn up, listen to the trainer, go away, probably too fast?

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kraut [154 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
oldstrath wrote:

Something I've never known -  can you fail a speed awareness course, and are there penalties if you do? Or is it just turn up, listen to the trainer, go away, probably too fast?

You can get kicked out for using your mobile (or otherwise misbehaving), but you can't actually fail it AFAIK

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PRSboy [94 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
kraut wrote:
oldstrath wrote:

Something I've never known -  can you fail a speed awareness course, and are there penalties if you do? Or is it just turn up, listen to the trainer, go away, probably too fast?

You can get kicked out for using your mobile (or otherwise misbehaving), but you can't actually fail it AFAIK

 

Yup, the one I went on had no official 'test', not that it would prove anything in particular.  All you had to do was turn up and be attentive. 

It has to be said, the parts in the presentation on stopping distances and observation were very interesting not to mention harrowing as they use actual accident sites where someone died, and a big takeaway for me on the day, though I now bore for England if someone trots out the usual 'but I was only doing 33' "ah, but do you realise those extra 3 mph increase your stopping distance by blah blah..."

A possible worthwhile change might be to allow a retrospective enforcement of the original fine/points if you get done for speeding again within a certain timeframe, say 3 yrs.

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beezus fufoon [954 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Edgeley wrote:

Cycling UK are quite right.  There won't be many long sentences for bad drivers, not least because of prison over-crowding and because juries won't convict unless there is clear and proven malice on the part of the perp.

What we need is to get bad drivers off the roads.

 

The other thing we need is more policemen out there.   Long sentencing is almost an admission that we can't deter through the certainty of being caught.

It strikes me that this is all a bit British - whereas modern nations aim at the idea of fairness in their concept of social justice, "we" like a more Victorian approach - choose one person to make an example of and hope they all fall into line on the off chance of having the book thrown at you - it is a British officer's ultimate in cost cutting...

unfortunately, the british public have become far too european and forward thinking in their ways, they are good economists and socially aspirant, and so they will choose to play russian roulette with the officer's revolver.

an interesting side effect might be that when any cyclist pulls up next to you at the lights, the standard opening question will become, "so how long until your get your licence back then?"

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oldstrath [919 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
PRSboy wrote:
kraut wrote:
oldstrath wrote:

Something I've never known -  can you fail a speed awareness course, and are there penalties if you do? Or is it just turn up, listen to the trainer, go away, probably too fast?

You can get kicked out for using your mobile (or otherwise misbehaving), but you can't actually fail it AFAIK

 

Yup, the one I went on had no official 'test', not that it would prove anything in particular.  All you had to do was turn up and be attentive. 

It has to be said, the parts in the presentation on stopping distances and observation were very interesting not to mention harrowing as they use actual accident sites where someone died, and a big takeaway for me on the day, though I now bore for England if someone trots out the usual 'but I was only doing 33' "ah, but do you realise those extra 3 mph increase your stopping distance by blah blah..."

A possible worthwhile change might be to allow a retrospective enforcement of the original fine/points if you get done for speeding again within a certain timeframe, say 3 yrs.

So you learnt some physics. Sure, this is a good thing, but it's a bit bloody sad that people have to break the law before being taught some basic stuff.

Randomised trial time methinks, just as with lots of other policies whose effect might charitably described as unproven.

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arfa [855 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

"An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure".
Cycling UK are quite right but needs to go further. 12 points should mean licence loss and a retest, no mitigation (that's the whole idea behind points). Anger issues behind the wheel ? Instant disqualification and a retest, as the driver has established they are not mentally fit to operate machinery on a public highway. I could go on but the reality is as long as nutcases are permitted to act with impunity, there'll be no improvement in road safety and the evidence is it's getting worse.