Tougher dangerous driving punishments announced

The Government has proposed much tougher sentences for those convicted of dangerous driving, as part of a wider sentencing and rehabilitation bill.

Currently, the maximum prison term for dangerous driving is two years, when it doesn't result in death. If a victim is killed, the sentence can be up to 14 years.
However, under the Government proposal, officially called the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, a new crime will be brought into law: causing serious injury by dangerous driving will carry a five-year maximum sentence and an unlimited fine.

Naturally, road safety groups have responded quickly and positively to the announcement.

RoSPA's Kevin Clinton said: "We welcome the announcement of a new offence of 'causing serious injury by dangerous driving.' Serious injuries often cause life-long disability for the victims of bad drivers and can fundamentally affect their quality of life and that of their families."

Road safety charity Brake is pleased too, with senior campaigns officer Ellen Booth saying: "Brake welcomes this new offence, which will help provide justice to families whose lives have been ripped apart by dangerous drivers.

"It also means dangerous drivers who inflict serious injury can expect to see higher sentences that are more in line with the devastation they have caused, which in some cases includes permanently debilitating injuries that leave people with round the clock care needs."

Brake called for the Government to go further, however, by increasing the maximum sentence from five years to 14, in line with the death by dangerous driving maximum.

Figures released by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), taken from the Department for Transport (DfT), show that there were 18,803 accidents as a result of careless, reckless or hurried driving in 2010.

Combined with the 3,862 accidents last year attributed to aggressive driving, those accidents caused at least one death on the road per day.

In total there were almost 25,000 reported deaths or serious injuries on UK roads in 2010.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said the new bill was written in response to "the victims of dangerous drivers, their families, MPs, judges and road safety groups [whose] experiences have directly informed these changes."

It is not known exactly when the tougher sentencing proposal will be written into law.
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