Tougher penalties for dangerous drivers

RELATIVES of crash victims have welcomed moves to impose tougher sentences on dangerous drivers.Transport Secretary Alistair Darling yesterday outlined proposals to come down stronger on motorists at fault in fatal accidents, particularly targeting uninsured or disqualified drivers.

RELATIVES of crash victims have welcomed moves to impose tougher sentences on dangerous drivers.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling yesterday outlined proposals to come down stronger on motorists at fault in fatal accidents, particularly targeting uninsured or disqualified drivers.

Ian Tidy, of Sapiston, near Bury St Edmunds, who has campaigned for eight years for better road safety following the death of his teenage daughter Ruth, applauded the plans.

“We don't take road death as seriously as we should,” he said. “Until we lost our daughter it was only statistics which meant nothing to me.

“But the collective effect of all the deaths has a serious affect. For young men under 23 it is a major cause of death in this country which is tragic and wasteful. We must all take it very seriously because it is indiscriminate.”

Ruth Tidy died following a three-car collision on the A1088 at Euston, near Thetford in March 1998.

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Mr Tidy said the new laws would take some time to have an effect on driver's attitudes but he described the plans as an important step in changing attitudes.

Rev Simon Wilson, East Anglian coordinator for Roadpeace, added: “Victims have been left shocked by lenient sentences and this is a first step in tackling the problem.”

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Darling said: “Taking a life is taking a life no matter how you do it.

“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.”

The proposed Road Safety Bill would create a new offence of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving punishable by up to five years in prison.

And uninsured or disqualified drivers involved in a fatal accident will also face prosecution under a new offence aimed at getting illegal motorists off the road.

Denise Downing, whose son Marc, a former pupil of Westbourne High School in Ipswich, was killed in a hit and run accident while on holiday near Newquay, Cornwall, in 2003, also welcomed the Bill.

She said: “An illegal car is no different to having an illegal weapon. If I was to go out onto the streets and stab or shoot someone I would be charged for murder or manslaughter and it should be the same principle for those who drive without insurance or a licence.

“I don't think there should be a maximum limit on how long offenders spend in prison but I am pleased something has finally been done because although it is too late for my family and the hundreds like us it is not too late for everyone else.”

Ms Downing started campaigning for stricter penalties after the driver that hit her son, Hayley Matthews, from Redruth, was fined £83 by magistrates after pleading guilty to several motoring offences including failing to stop and failing to report an accident.

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