Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Wednesday, 8 March 2006

'Tougher terms' for death drivers

Police officer by motorway
The government has set a target of reducing road deaths

Drivers who cause fatal accidents will receive tougher sentences, the transport secretary has warned.

The Road Safety Bill, currently being debated by MPs, would create an offence of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving.

This would punishable by up to five years in prison.

"Taking a life is taking a life, no matter how you do it," Mr Darling told MPs. Tories said stronger sanctions than those offered were needed.

'Potentially deadly'

Under the plans, more "highly effective" number plate recognition cameras would be used to catch illegal drivers, said Mr Darling.

"It is important that the courts actually regard somebody who kills somebody using a car in the same way as if they had used any other means of killing people," he told the Commons.

It's important that drivers realise that the minute they sit behind the wheel of a car they are potentially driving something that can cause death or serious injury
Alistair Darling

He said many MPs would have cases where constituents "have lost young children and someone is convicted but they don't see that justice is being done".

"It's important that drivers realise that the minute they sit behind the wheel of a car they are potentially driving something that can cause death or serious injury."

The bill will also create a new offence aimed at getting illegal motorists off the road with the prosecution of uninsured or disqualified drivers involved in a fatal accident.

The government's target of reducing deaths and serious injury on the roads by 40% by 2010 saw a drop of 28% in 2004.

But Mr Darling said there were "still too many children killed" on Britain's roads, adding that there were "quite large regional variations" which showed how different local authorities were tackling the problem.

Speeding

Meanwhile, the government is to hold a consultation on introducing graduating penalty points for speeding fines.

Mr Darling said a driver caught at 66mph in a 40mph zone faced the same punishment as a someone driving at 36mph in a 30mph.

He said a little over half of respondents to an initial consultation on the matter were in favour of allowing police to issue between two and six penalty points.

A more comprehensive review is now planned.

Mr Darling added: "We need to do more to make sure the punishment fits the crime."

The Tories are backing the bill, but shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling said it did "not set out a clear enough strategy to deal with this problem."

The government could have taken tougher action to deal with poor and illegal drivers, he added.

However, Labour MP Sally Keeble welcomed the new offence of death by dangerous or inconsiderate driving, saying it would meet the "burning sense of injustice" felt by victims' families.

SEE ALSO
Fine for driver's make-up offence
08 Mar 06 |  North West Wales

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific