Saturday, 29 October 2011
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
We are very surprised that at a time when death on the road is at an all time low and
We are very surprised that at a time when death on the road is at an all time low and drivers are doing so well, Kenneth Clarke, a man renowned for his policy of softer sentencing in other areas, decides to invent a new offence with draconian sentences for drivers. Why?
Sentences should never be based on outcome and injuries from driving, nor on the inexpert views of victims but solely on the actions and the intent of the driver. For example a car reversed dangerously into another car and causing only bent metal will not even merit the attendance of the police. Another, reversed accidentally into the same car but with someone in between, will cause horrific injuries from exactly the same scenario with a prospect of five years. Who decides between dangerous and accident is our concern?
The fact is that society, for economic expediency, allows large lumps of moving machinery to be operated by any Tom,Dick, and Harry among humans and such tragedies will occur.
This new offence is actually in response to the Bill by MP Karl Turner of Hull, for seven years jail for no accident at all, due for its second reading this month. I was in contact with MPs and ministers about it and I am glad that not only is this new Bill for two years less but also requires serious injury too; I was clearly successful against Turner's Bill.
However I am now asking Kenneth Clarke to consider that dangerous driving is based merely on the hostile perceptions of inexpert witnesses and this is not good enough to justify a five year term. In all other offences, carrying such terms, an expert witness is exactly that and is objective too. The same standards should apply in this.
I am also concerned, as I have explained, that the severity of injury is incidental and should never be a basis for imprisonment. In view of that, I am asking, when he frames the new Bill, that there must be absolute requirement to prove that it was not just by genuine driver error and a mistake; we are human, will make mistakes and don't deserve prison when we do. That principle should apply to all of us; including drivers.
We are encouraging all drivers to write to their MPs along those lines now and whilst the Bill is being framed.