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MPs to debate killer hit-and-run drivers after petitions hit 100,000 signatures

House of Commons debate will take place on Monday 15 November

Members of Parliament will debate hit-and-run drivers who kill other road users later this month, with two petitions on the subject passing the 100,000-signature threshold needed for the issue to be considered by the Backbench Business Committee.

It has now been confirmed that the debate will be held on Monday 15 November. Debates tabled by the Backbench Business Committee, whether as a result of application from an MP or following a petition, often take place in Westminster Hall rather than the main chamber of the House of Commons.

They do however provide an opportunity for MPs to raise their own concerns on the issue being debated, and are attended by a minister to give a response on behalf of the government, as well as proceedings being broadcast live on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

The earlier of the two petitions, posted by the parents of two young men who were killed while riding motorbikes by drivers who fled the scene, closed in January this year after being hosted on the website for six months, and attracted 104,324 signatures.

The petition said: “The maximum penalty for failure to stop after an incident is points and a 6-month custodial sentence. Causing death by careless/dangerous driving is between 5-14 yrs. The sentence for failing to stop after a fatal collision must be increased.”

The second, which gained 167,640 signatures, closed in September and called for the introduction of what was termed “Ryan’s Law” – named after Ryan Saltern, who was left to die by a driver who struck him in his vehicle then fled the scene.

> Government rejects “Ryan’s Law” petition on killer hit-and-run drivers

That petition called for the definition of causing death by dangerous driving to be widened to include “failure to stop, call 999 and render aid on scene until further help arrives.” 

Once petitions hosted on the Parliament website reach 10,000 signatures, the government is obliged to give a response to the issues raised therein, and in the case of these two petitions, those came from different government departments – the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for the former and the Department for Transport (DfT) for the latter.

Much of the wording of both responses was identical, or as near as makes no difference, with each stating that “the offence of failing to stop should not be used to punish an offender for a serious, but not proven, offence.”

Both highlighted that the vast majority of failure to stop cases relate to what were described as “low level incidents,” giving the example of a driver clipping the wing mirror of another vehicle in a narrow street, typically punishable on conviction by a fine.

The two responses acknowledged that in more serious cases that attracted charges such as causing death by dangerous or careless driving, failure to stop would be considered as an aggravating factor by the courts as an aggravating factor.

They also pointed out that where a motorist had taken steps to avoid detection, that could amount to perverting the course of justice, for which the maximum penalty on conviction is life imprisonment.

In its reply to the Ryan’s Law petition, the DfT added: “The Government takes this issue seriously. The Department for Transport is looking into the issue of such incidents of failure to stop resulting in death or serious injury, and exploring whether there are further options that can be pursued.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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