Driving is a privilege, not a right, and those who show a disregard for the law shouldn’t be allowed to endanger others.Mary Williams OBE, Brake chief executive
Brake's policy positions on enforcement and criminal justice
Brake supports increased investment in roads policing and the use of dash-cams to help the public enforce the rules of the road.
When a driver causes a death or serious injury, they might be prosecuted with 'causing death by dangerous driving' or 'causing death by careless driving'. When a driver causes a serious injury, they might be prosecuted with 'causing serious injury by dangerous driving' (a charge introduced in 2012) or simply 'careless driving'.
The difference between 'careless' and 'dangerous' driving in the eyes of the law is slight and subjective: it's the difference between someone's driving falling below or well below what is expected of a careful and competent driver. But the difference in penalties between these charges is huge. The maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving is only five years, compared to 14 for causing death by dangerous driving. The maximum sentence for causing serious injury by dangerous driving is five years (if heard in a Crown Court), compared to a maximum penalty of a fine only for careless driving. Very often, prosecutors go for the lesser careless driving charges because they are easier to prove.
Brake believes charges and penalties for causing death or serious injury should be overhauled. We need to ensure that prosecutors aren't tempted to go for an easier won charge that carries inappropriately low penalties and deems driving that has killed or caused serious harm as merely 'careless', terminology that undermines the gravitas of the offence.
Driving is a privilege, not a right, and those who show a disregard for the law shouldn’t be allowed to endanger others.
The penalty-points system is designed to protect the public from dangerous repeat offenders, but the system is being undermined. Thousands of drivers with 12 points or more have been allowed to retain their licence. Many drivers who have reached 12 points have been using a loophole to keep their licence by claiming it would cause 'exceptional hardship' if they were banned. This loophole needs closing urgently: driving is a privilege, not a right; and if that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it should be revocable. Drivers who reach 12 points should be automatically disqualified to protect themselves and others.
Brake also believes that drivers who kill and seriously injure should be taken off the road once they are charged, as a condition of bail. Prosecutions often take months to come to court and in many cases the driver charged is able to continue driving during this time, potentially putting others in danger, and often in the same community where the crash took place.
If you hit and kill someone when behind the wheel and you're found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could face up to 14 years in jail. However, if you flee the scene and wait to sober up, you'll most likely be charged with 'hit and run' and face a maximum sentence of six months.
We need to end the incentive for drink- and drug-drivers to flee the scene to sober up and ensure hit-and-run drivers who kill or seriously injure face the same penalties as other drivers who inflict such destruction. There must be an assumption that if they fled the scene, they caused the crash through dangerous driving.
Listen to our Time to Zero In podcast on roads enforcement
Brake advocates for a Vision Zero approach to road safety management. This approach is based on the belief that no death or serious injury is acceptable on roads and follows the principles of the Safe System, where the five pillars of the road environment work together to minimise risk.
Brake also believes that an effective road safety system is reliant upon robust enforcement and criminal justice and that the fleet sector has a significant role to play in helping improve the safety of our roads.