Motorists who cause death by dangerous or careless driving could soon receive life sentences under proposals being considered by the government.
Under the existing laws, the maximum custodial sentence for a person convicted of causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years, while causing death by careless driving carries a maximum penalty of five years.
Tough sentences for using a mobile phone
It is believed that ministers will look to impose tougher sentences closer to those currently used for individuals convicted of manslaughter. In 2015, the average custodial sentence for causing death by dangerous driving was just under four years.
Those who cause death by speeding, street racing or driving while using a mobile phone could face longer sentences, alongside those who are found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In September, two men from Bradford were each jailed for seven-and-a-half years after the two high-performance cars they were driving hit a taxi at around 90mph. The taxi driver and his passenger were killed in the impact.
Road safety campaigners have welcomed the plans, but some have argued that the highest sentences should only be reserved for those that have ‘gone out of their way’ to commit serious offences or displayed deliberate reckless behaviour.
Earlier this year, an independent study by Stephensons found that a significant number of drivers exhibit dangerous or reckless behaviour when behind the wheel, leaving them at risk of prosecution. 35 per cent of those surveyed said that they had driven over the speed limit in the past year, while 10 per cent admitted to using a mobile phone.