Prison is a little closer for drivers with the long-awaited changes to sentencing guidelines. These came into effect on 28th June 2022, but have ADIs brought this to the attention of their learner students?

It has long been a long time in the making, having been on the discussion table since 2017. The changes are as follows:

  • An increase to the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life;
  • An increase to the maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life;
  • A new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

These changes have been brought in following concerns from members of the public that the seriousness of the motoring crimes committed while driving, should be reflected by the sentencing that follows. This new legislation has been welcomed by road safety charities such as Brake and Road Peace, who have been fighting for amendments to the law for some time now in order to deliver justice to victims and keep roads free from dangerous drivers.

They have long argued that penalties faced by drivers who kill and injure as a result of the motoring crimes committed are “grossly inadequate” and cause added anguish to their families.

These are the points that ADIs should get across to the learner students. Motoring offences are serious crimes regardless of the offences committed. Just because they may not suffer any consequences the first time they speed, jump a red light, overtake a cyclist too close, use a mobile phone while driving or get behind the wheel while impaired through alcohol or drugs, they may not be so lucky the next time. What’s more, how lucky are other road users going to be the next time they do they drive negligently or illegally?

 

Offensive behaviours

These points are highlighted by Charlotte Le Maire, of Arch Law, a Criminal Motor Defence Solicitor for over 20 years, who says: “The consequences cannot always be controlled as they hugely depend on luck as to where vehicles/others are placed, the type of vehicle being driven and even the road being driven on at the time. The ‘error’ or ‘mistake’ is within the driver’s control.”

Here are some examples to pass onto learner students:

  1. Careless driving is momentary lapses of attention/concentration, driving too closely to another vehicle or pulling out of a road into collision with another vehicle or cyclist/pedestrian.
  2. Dangerous driving, however, is very subjective. It requires a standard of driving that falls far below what is expected of a competent driver and that it is obvious that driving in such a way would be dangerous. This can include driving whilst knowingly deprived of adequate sleep, being avoidably distracted or blatant disregard of the rules of the road such as dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.
  3. The new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving is punishable by a maximum of 2 years imprisonment and anyone who drives could fall into this category.

Le Maire continues: “In my view, the effects of this new offence are wide reaching and extremely concerning for anyone who drives. It means that for what can be a very minor mistake on the road, that we all probably make each and every day, if that minor error happens to result in serious injury (which can include a broken bone or laceration, it does not need to be a life changing injury) drivers are facing potential custodial sentences.”

 

 

Points of view

I have been a collision investigator for over 21 years. I believe ADIs need to educate students on what constitutes careless driving, what constitutes careless driving with aggravated features and what constitutes dangerous driving, as well as explaining the potential penalties that go hand in hand with these offences.

ADIs are educators, and this covers all aspects of road safety, it affect everyone using the roads in the UK every day.

There are vast amounts of excellent educational information from numerous sources but unfortunately, too many students are not aware of these. That is why I am launching a new single reference point website, which will be free of charge – it’s called Drive Smart. ADIs will be able to direct students to this website, helping reinforce their teaching and what their students are learning each week. It will enhance the learning process and better prepare new drivers for the real world of driving.

 

Andrew Drewary is the Managing Director at Road Safety Smart.

If you want to know more about the subjects covered in this article, do not hesitate to contact Andrew Drewary at andrew@roadsafetysmart.co.uk or call him on 07817 043821.

Next month: The new Road Smart website set to launch in August 2022.