Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about road safety and sentences for dangerous driving.
I share your concerns about the devastating consequences that driving offences have on victims and their loved ones. I pay tribute to all those who have campaigned to improve road safety and reduce deaths and serious injury.
As you note, the Government promised a full review of the road offences framework back in 2014. In November 2021, the Transport Minister said the Government was considering conducting a call for evidence on parts of the Road Traffic Act. With hundreds of families losing loved ones to dangerous drivers in the intervening years, I believe the Government needs to provide a timeframe, as well as explain what has held it up for so long.
You also highlight the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently being considered by the House of Lords, following its passage through the House of Commons earlier this year.
I support an increase to the maximum penalties for the offences of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years’ imprisonment to imprisonment for life. During debate in the House of Lords, the Opposition offered support for an amendment which would have widened those protections and increase sentences for causing serious injury while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, this was withdrawn during the debate.
The Bill also inserts an offence to fill a gap in the law of causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving.
Two amendments tabled by Ben Bradshaw MP in July aimed to change the law on the extreme hardship principle, and the law as it relates to hit and run offences. These were debated on 5 July but were not pushed to a vote. However, the Government said it was working to explore options with officials about how these offences will work in the wider context.
I believe we must be serious about addressing the incidence and consequences of unacceptable driving. I will be following the progress of these matters closely.