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Shropshire Star comment: Get tough with killer motorists

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

The outdated sentencing guidelines for drivers whose recklessness claims lives is a national disgrace.

While under current laws motorists can be handed sentences of up to 14 years for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving, the powers are seldom used.

Lighter sentences have become the norm, and according to new figures from the Ministry of Justice, from 2008 to 2018 a total of 14 killer drivers across the West Midlands region walked free from court after being convicted.

Our lawmakers have been fully aware of this legal failure for years, yet nothing has been done. Promises of inquiries into sentencing patterns and pledges to change the law have drifted away into the ether as our Parliament wastes endless hours bungling Brexit.

MPs actually managed to squeeze in a debate on the issue last week, with a Westminster Hall session which brought together bereaved families from around the country to share their stories. Listening to their stories is heartbreaking.

The tragic death of Olivia-Violet Reeves is a case in point. She was just 11 when she was struck by a Range Rover as she walked to school in 2017.

The driver, 77-year-old Roger Goodhall, had been swigging wine from the bottle while in the car.

He was jailed for four-and-a-half years, a sentence that many would argue is nowhere near severe enough especially as he will be out of prison in December.

Last year the Government pledged to introduce life sentences for drivers who cause death by speeding, racing or using a mobile phone while behind the wheel. The fact that ministers blame a lack of parliamentary time for the law not yet being implemented tells its own sorry story.

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There is overwhelming public support for more stringent measures to clamp down on dangerous drivers.

At the very top of the list is a complete overhaul of sentencing guidelines for the crime.

This newspaper is very clear in its view on the issue of dangerous drivers.

Anyone who claims a life due to recklessness and lack of respect for the laws of the road deserves to feel the full force of the law. This issue should be at the top of the very long ‘to do’ list that awaits our next Prime Minister.

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