Mike Waters' Blog: 26 August 2008 - Making the time fit the crime
26 August 2008
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
Collisions happen, even to the best drivers, but for some people their actions behind the wheel increase their chances of this happening.
Under new legislation brought in by the Government, such drivers will now face stiffer penalties, in a move aimed at reducing the number of deaths caused by driving through tougher sentencing.
Under the Road Safety Act 2006, causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured will now merit a maximum of two years in prison. Causing death due to careless driving will carry custodial sentences of a maximum five years which it is hoped will make drivers think twice about their actions.
Uninsured vehicles are a serious nuisance to any lawful road user. They bump up our insurance premiums, they are more likely to be dangerous vehicles and if you have an accident with one it could cost you. So its worrying news that according to The Times the number of deaths caused by uninsured drivers has risen by nearly a third in six years, while average fines for driving without insurance have dropped by 17%.
So it comes as no surprise that in the past the law hasn't been a big enough deterrent to drivers. Before the introduction of these new penalties, the maximum sentence for those convicted of causing death by careless, uninsured or unlicensed driving was a maximum £5000 fine and penalty licence points, hardly a punishment that fits the consequences of the crime.
Distracted drivers are just as bad. Examples include drivers using a mobile phone, both to talk on and text, eating behind the wheel or even applying make-up. If you spend enough time on the roads I am sure that you will see plenty of people breaking the law in this way.
In Britain we have made important strides to make the roads safer, supported by the latest road safety figures which show that fewer than 3,000 people were killed on British roads in 2007, a fall of 7% on the previous years figure. However, the issue remains that no death is acceptable and drivers must understand the severity of their actions.
All drivers should be insured and banned drivers should not get behind the wheel under any circumstances, end of debate. However, even generally good drivers may be temped from time to time by what they see as minor distractions. But be warned, the punishments are beginning to fit the crime and one moment of misjudgement could lead to significant and life changing consequences.