Fleet News

Tougher penalties for killer drivers

Motorists who cause a fatal crash whilst eating or drinking at the wheel will face five years in prison under new careless driving laws, which came into force this week.

The new offences will, for the first time, allow courts to imprison drivers who cause death by not paying due care to the road.

They will also cover drivers who kill while calling or texting on a mobile phone, applying make-up while driving, or anything else which takes their attention away from the road and which a judge deems to have been an avoidable distraction.

The news laws are designed to plug the gap in current legislation that has allowed drivers who have killed while at the wheel to walk away from court with just a fine.

Prior to the introduction of these new laws, the maximum sentence for those convicted of causing death by careless, uninsured or unlicensed driving was a maximum £5,000 fine and penalty licence points.

"Drivers who kill through carelessness will no longer be able to walk away from court with just a fine,” said Justice Minister Maria Eagle.

"Driving requires full concentration at all times.

"A moment's distraction can make the difference between life and death."

The Association of Chief Police Officers’ spokesman on roads policing and Deputy Chief Constable of Gwent Police Mick Giannasi said: "Careless drivers put themselves and others at risk every time they get behind the wheel of a car

"The introduction of this legislation will hit home the message that driving is a hazardous activity that requires total concentration.

"Allowing distractions to affect your standard of driving is not acceptable and will now be more appropriately punished under the law." 

Meanwhile, the RAC says fleet drivers and managers should pay particular notice to the new sentencing rules. 

"We hope that fleet drivers sit up and take notice of the punishment they'll now face for making irresponsible choices in their vehicles, and pay extra attention whilst driving,” said RAC spokesperson Jon Day.

“Employers should thoroughly vet and induct any new driver, while in-vehicle practical risk assessments will help fleet managers to determine the fleet driver’s competency.

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