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To think people who kill on the roads should face stiffer sentences

(36 Posts)
SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 02-Oct-12 15:41:02

Basically the driver was driving along the road at 60mph, and made at least two lapses of concentration:

* not seeing the cyclist visible for AT LEAST 11 seconds
* driving over the white line at the edge of the road

Obviously he didn't INTEND to kill the cyclist, but equally obviously motor vehicles are dangerous things, deadly weapons, and 'oops' doesn't really cut it. A higher standard of responsibility should be expected of someone in charge of a van at 60mph than say someone walking home from the pub.

It seems to me that a very least he should be banned from driving from life, as well as face a substantial prison sentence to reflect the fact that through his careless driving a family now has no father:

What kind of message does this send out to people? How can it be acceptable that people can not pay attention on the road, say 'oops', and be allowed to drive within a year? This was BTW the MINIMUM possible driving ban, for someone who was supposedly a professional driver.

Road image:

How can you drive along for 11 seconds without looking at the road? And how is it possible that when you are 100% to blame for someone's death, that you don't see the inside of a prison cell?

quoteunquote Tue 02-Oct-12 15:59:17


He should be banned from driving for life.

EldritchCleavage Tue 02-Oct-12 16:07:37

Yes, but people forget that when the law was different and the penalties harsher (motor manslaughter), juries, most of whom were drivers, often didn't convict at all. That is why specific offences of causing death by dangerous driving, with lower penalties, were brought in. I wonder if attitudes have changed enough for the law to be tightened up with no drop in the conviction rate? I would hope so, but who knows?

I'm horrified by the number of people I see driving along and texting, including on the motorway, and if he wasn't looking for 11 seconds I bet that's what this driver was doing.

As a society we tolerate road deaths in a way I find completely puzzling. Most of them are avoidable, why don't we all do more to avoid them? And to punish the perpetrators?

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 02-Oct-12 16:22:56

I wonder if it was properly investigated by the police.

At the scene they should have confiscated his mobile phone and done a full investigation of phone/sms logs.

Diana2000 Tue 02-Oct-12 16:32:36


From what it says in the first link, the driver appears to be truly remorseful and I can kind of see where the judge was coming from when he said a jail sentence in this particular case would profit nobody.

But if drivers who killed were always given sentences of ten years plus (for example) it would surely make a lot more people a hell of a lot more vigilant when driving.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 02-Oct-12 18:02:38

The judge made the correct descison. What good would it do anyone for this man to go to prison? it wouldn't be anything other than a waste of money and a waste of two lives instead of one. The threat of it wouldn't have prevented the accident, and there is no point in sending someone to prison because of a genuine accident.

We have people deliberately coming crimes that don't face prison.

We all take a risk when we use the road, that risk would not be any less if people were jailed for careless driving.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 02-Oct-12 18:08:50

I think if someone has been drinking, speeding, talking on the phone, etc then yes they should go to prison.

But for something like this I'm not so sure. It's difficult. Yes he was careless, he should have seen him but accidents like this happen. They shouldn't but they do. It doesn't make the perpetrator a bad person. He stopped, he tried to help, he's remorseful, previous good character, etc.

Prison isn't there to Send messages out to other people. That's not the idea of prison sentences. Obviously prison does work as a deterrent for many things such as shoplifting but that's a by product. Prison is there for punishment and nothing more. I think that prison for such a case is too much of a punishment.

Maybe the cyclists family disagree. Maybe in their situation I would do, but I'd like to think I wouldn't.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 02-Oct-12 18:15:24

Yes of course there is a point in sending people to prison for genuine accidents.

For instance, 'Lion Steel' were sentenced to a £480k fine for the death of Steven Berry who fell through a weak roof.

No doubt this was a 'genuine accident', but the fine sends out a message that you need to take every possible precaution to preserve life.

Very many people treat cars like toys. They are not. They are deadly weapons.

Just as you don't send someone up on a weak roof without checking it, you shouldn't drive other than as if you are in charge of a loaded, deadly weapon. Because you are.

Penalties should reflect that.

Goldmandra Tue 02-Oct-12 18:24:07

Perhaps everyone who is found to have lapsed concentration/used a mobile phone/made a dangerous manoeuvre/exceeded the speed limit should receive a jail sentence.

After all many people take stupid risks on the roads every day. It is only luck which dictates who kills someone and who gets away with it and has the chance to do it again tomorrow.

I certainly believe that the penalty for dangerous driving should be just as severe as that for causing death by dangerous driving. The actions of the driver were the same for both.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 02-Oct-12 18:27:33

Do you honestly think that the majority of people aren't aware of how dangerous their car could be?

Yes, there are some people that deliberately drive like twats, but there are penalties and prison sentences for that. This man made a genuine and honest mistake and the fact that he took a life will be more than enough punishment for those few seconds that he lost concentration.

I really don't see what you think it would achieve to give this man a prison sentence. He could have done the same thing and no one would have noticed, or the worst could be a scratch on his car. The 'crime' would be exactly the same. The consequence is different, but the original act remains the same. If you sent this man to prison you would have to send everyone to prison for minor driving offences.

You can't punish according to a consequence, only the original crime. Otherwise the justice system becomes a mockery.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 02-Oct-12 18:28:48

Oh, and your other example is not remotely comparable.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 02-Oct-12 18:30:30

I don't think that's a bad idea to impose severe penalties on general dangerous driving.

You see people driving like they are on race tracks constantly.

Have a look at this girl:

she smashes her car into the middle of a dual carriageway, giving every indication of having been on the phone while driving, police can't be bothered to investigate that, Dad turns up and says 'oh all my kids do that', as if it's somehow normal behaviour for people to smash cars up.

Not in my family it's not.

Cartoonjane Tue 02-Oct-12 18:33:03

goldmandra i totally agree. The identical actions of two drivers can lead to very different outcomes.

I see drivers on mobile phones EVERY DAY. Should they all go to prison? When one of them kills someone no doubt there are calls for it but what about all the others who made a lucky escape?

dana2000 i don't think ten year sentences would deter in that way. The likelihood of killing someone ( even when driving dangerously) is (thankfully) very low and deterrants only work when people feel there's a high chance of getting caught (which is why the breataliser has worked as a deterrant so well).

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 02-Oct-12 18:33:21

"You can't punish according to a consequence, only the original crime"

No that's not the case

If you punch someone in a pub on the average Saturday night, you won't face much punishment.

If by reason of some medical condition, that person were to die following an average sort of punch, you'd be going to prison.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 02-Oct-12 18:36:37

Yes, because when you punch, there is an intention to hurt. When you are driving home from work one night you are just driving home from work, with no intention to do anything to anyone.

What do you think it will achieve to put this guy in prison?

spoonsspoonsspoons Tue 02-Oct-12 18:37:24

Selby Rail Crash demonstrates we punish consequences not actions.

Driving whilst tired and crashing doesn't normally carry a 5 year jail term on it's own.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 02-Oct-12 18:37:35

"I see drivers on mobile phones EVERY DAY. Should they all go to prison? When one of them kills someone no doubt there are calls for it but what about all the others who made a lucky escape?"

Not a bad idea tbh. Let's just think about it.

Scenario A:
* You are in the car, your phone rings, you think 'should I answer it'
* You know the penalty if caught is 3 points, and even that's unlikely, so basically the effective penalty is zero, since 3 points won't change your life
* As a result you decide to answer the phone.

Scenario B:
* You are in the car, your phone rings, you think 'should I answer it'
* You know the penalty if caught is a prison sentence, and while it's unlikely you would be caught, it would be catastrophic for you were.
* As a result you leave the phone and concentrate on driving.

Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal, but the penalty is so minor that people just use them anyway.

Equally the legal consequences for shit driving are minor, so people drive like aresholes, constantly.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 02-Oct-12 18:38:28

Yes but with the punching there is intent.

The roof scenario is also not comparable as there is negligence on a scale where most people would have felt it was too great a risk - so the roof scenario is more comparable with speeding rather than a been distracted for 10 secs scenario.

I can't say hand on heart that my eyes are on the road infron all the time. I glance down and adjust the fan, I look in my rear view mirror, I glance to the right, etc. I've managed to drive over 20 years without hitting anyone but accidents happen.

There was a woman near me who crashed her car and killed her dd and her dd's best friend. She was speeding and was sent to prison. I can understand that as she took a risk. But part of me thought what use was 2 years in prison?? She was never going to be punished anymore than by knowing she'd killed her dd.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 02-Oct-12 18:40:11

But people don't make a concious decision to drive like an arsehole whereas speeding, answering the phone is a concious decision. People do drive like arseholes but if you'd asked them before an accident they'd have thought they were driving ok.

Startailoforangeandgold Tue 02-Oct-12 18:56:46

There, but for the grace of "God" go all of us who drive.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 02-Oct-12 19:02:28

I'm sure people do make a conscious decision to drive like arseholes, you don't tailgate, cut people up, by accident, you do it because there's a perception that you are in your own personal space, inside your car, and essentially you can do as you wish.

This perception is reinforced by sentencing outcomes. In this case the van driver chose to exist in his personal space, inside his van, while not paying attention to the road, rather than to pay attention to his responsibilities to the outside world, and this was reflected by the judge saying 'never mind, it was only an accident'.

In my experience perhaps even a majority of drivers drive selfishly, their cars dehumanize the world around them, they are protected by air bags, NCAP testing, cosseted by air conditioning and music, and they pay only the scantest regard to the law on things like speeding, traffic lights, right of way and so on.

Penal policy should send out a message that drivers are NOT special, and they must pay the consequences for their actions, but instead we are told 'it was only an accident', as if there was anything inevitable about driving over the edge of a carriageway on a straight road and killing someone.

Driving is the only thing most people do that creates an existential threat to others, but we are still so blasé about it.

Personally I would fit black boxes to every car and record and collect the data and ban people automatically. It beggars belief that in our modern, risk-free world, people are still permitted to drive the way they do, at double the speed limit on residential roads, and as if they were competing at the Monaco Grand Prix, not dropping the kids off at school then going out to pick up some groceries.

I don't see that there is any 'right' to drive. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing people do, and laws should be properly monitored and enforced using modern technology, and ignore any bleating about civil rights. I'm all in favour of people asserting their right to free speech, to walk down the street, but no kind of right should involve propelling a 3-tonne lump of metal that will kill anything it hits while largely preserving those inside it.

MummyOnTheLoose Tue 02-Oct-12 19:16:10

I agree. Nine years ago, one week and a day, DS was killed aged five after a drunk driver crashed into the car he was in, with his friend and his friend's dad, who had taken them both swimming for the friend's birthday treat. Three weeks later, he died in ICU. It was the worst thing which could ever have happened, and nothing could even get close. I'd do anything to have swapped places with him and have been killed instead. Since then, I've campaigned a lot for this, and I've met with other car crash families- some have lost children like me, some have lost arms or legs after being hit, some have parents or brothers or sisters who'd been killed- whatever happens, it tears people apart.

The drunk driver got 4yrs- she was over the limit and on drugs- she was 22, she was 18yrs older than my son, who'd had his whole life ahead of him to be anything- a scientist, teacher, doctor- even a criminal- the whole point was he could have done anything if that driver hadn't crashed her car. I don't know what's happened since then, it's been five years since she was out of prison, nine years since his death, and four inquests, not to mention countless campaigns, and no one makes changes. Last week there were flowers tied to a lamp post near my house- a pedestrian was killed crossing the road. Somewhere, a family is going to or arranging a funeral, thinking about inquests, memorials, sentencing and having lost a parent maybe or a friend or a brother or sister, or a daughter or son, and I don't want anyone going through what I did.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 02-Oct-12 19:16:14

have a look at this

I'm a cyclist, I quite like watching these sorts of films partly as a learning experience.

The bloke who hits the cyclist first was an total fool, God knows how he hit him. No excuse for not seeing him as he's wearing high vis gear. I think he didn't realise how fast the cyclist was going and thought he had time to make it. The cyclist was going at a fair lick.

I do however feel a shred of sympathy for the 2nd driver. I've watched this video numerous times and I think she was probably looking to her left when the accident happened so missed it. By the time she looked back to the right he was on the floor infront of her car so out of her view. Though I fail to understand why she tried to keep on going after running him over, think she said she thought she'd hit the kerb.

I suppose she may just have pulled out without looking. But even with video evidence I think it would be very hard to know which of those 2 cases is right. Only she knows and she's going to say the former rather than the latter.

If she'd killed him and hadn't looked to the right then she should have had the book thrown at her. But if it was a case of him been out of her line of sight and she'd killed him then I'd say it was an accident.

It wasn't the cyclists fault but as a cyclist this has made me slow down when approaching junctions even though I shouldn't need to.

MummyOnTheLoose Tue 02-Oct-12 19:17:12

She was 17yrs older, not eighteen- the only difference a year makes would have been one more with DS.

SkippyYourFriendEverTrue Tue 02-Oct-12 19:23:18

MummyOnTheLoose, I'm so sorry.

I actually think all cars should be equipped with breathalysers, I can't see why they are not mandatory.

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