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Careless driving Road Safety bill - Lords scrutiny -Transport Watch comment December 2011


Posted by Paul Withrington on December 11, 2005
Subject: Careless driving Road Safety bill - Lords scrutiny -Transport Watch comment

Version published in The Times

All of us are occasionally "careless", sometimes "deliberately" as in eating a biscuit, or talking, while driving. Mostly we get away with it but occasionally, and particularly when behind the wheel of a car, a moment's lapse may lead to a death. Hence, by proxy we are all guilty of that death - and should weeping for the victim. The mediaeval approach is to make the punishment fit that awful and chance outcome. A modern approach would consider only the level of carelessness or the extent to which the behaviour causing the death was unreasonable. That the Government, in its Road Safety Bill, was looking to the mediaeval is to be deplored. Fortunately the Lords, in their scrutiny have rejected that. Unfortunately they have been less clear headed in allowing the new offence of causing death while driving without a license, uninsured or disqualified to stand. Instead the two offences should be kept quite separate -penalties, no doubt, for each of the unlicensed, disqualified and uninsured offences considered separately, and then a quite separate hearing to do with the accident. To mix the two can lead only to confusion and in some cased unrealistic sentences.

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