What does Bracknell think: Tougher sentences for drivers who kill?
November 13, 2012
Our opinion piece features a panel of local people who will take turns to debate current topics.
To join the panel or suggest a topic, email email@example.com
This week we asked our panel what they thought about www.stopdangerousdrivers.com – a campaign for tougher sentences for killer drivers. This followed our story last week about the family of Steve Hazel backing the campaign.
Peter Smith, of The Better Business Alliance: “To lose a loved one is always a tragedy and it is right to ask why drivers who cause the death of another person are not treated more harshly. I had a close friend who drove into a pedestrian at night. He was not exceeding the speed limit, he had a fully functioning vehicle and simply didn’t see the pedestrian wearing black who walked in front of him.
“She died and he wasn’t prosecuted as he was not found at fault by the police. He didn’t get off Scot free as he had the tragedy to live with for the rest of his life.
“Perhaps he should have been locked up and perhaps the punishment would have helped him and the family who have suffered from their loss come to terms with what had happened.
“This is not to oppose the idea of harsher punishments for people who cause death while driving, but it is important not to make the law so prescriptive that the police and judges lose any flexibility in prosecution and sentencing.”
Winkfield artist Jonathan Greenyer: “The sentences for causing death and injury by driving are ludicrously inadequate.
“It should be the driver’s sole responsibility to drive within their limits, the limits of the car and the conditions of the road. If you cause a death at the wheel of the car for failing to observe any of these then you should be punished as if you have killed with a gun or knife.
“I would also establish more stringent tests to verify people are still capable of driving as they get older – and I don’t mean just when you are 70. There are so many crimes including drink driving and dangerous driving, that are so obviously wrong, yet we still let people off with pathetic warnings and short sentences.”
Kayne Steinborn-Busse, head of sales & marketing at APC Overnight, Bracknell: “If they have been found guilty of careless or dangerous driving then they should be sent to prison.
“Prison sentences seem to be far too short and there also appears to be little consistency on a case by case basis. Careless driving is no different to dangerous driving – if you’re being careless behind the wheel that’s surely very dangerous.”
Ed Glasson, secretary, Unite the Union, Bracknell Branch: “I think anyone can understand the anguish and pain felt by those closest to Steve Hazel. It’s every family’s worst nightmare to have someone taken from them by some stupid and needless accident. But what matters most is how best to prevent other families going through the same dreadful trauma.
“We already send killer drivers to prison and, if someone could prove increased sentences would have a significant deterrent effect, I’d be willing to support longer sentences. But I think what we’re dealing with here is what could sometimes be just a momentary lapse; not necessarily the consequence of serial and lethal carelessness. Consequently, it is appropriate to have a charge of careless driving.”