Motorists who cause death through dangerous driving should be subjected to much stronger penalties, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has urged.
The organisation has voiced its concerns in the face of a growing number of cases of deaths being caused on the road where a driver has been distracted by a mobile phone.
With regards to recent prosecutions for causing death by dangerous driving where a phone has been a factor, the average custodial sentence is four and a half years, with those drivers also being handed an average driving ban of seven years.
The IAM feels that current sentencing does not reflect the gravity of causing death by dangerous driving and is calling for greater use of the maximum 14-year sentence that can be passed for this crime.
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “The maximum sentence available to the courts is 14 years, so there is still scope for an even stronger road safety message that drivers who kill whilst distracted on their phones will be caught and jailed for a long time.
“The lesson here is obvious: never use your phone while driving. Whether you have a hands free kit or use loudspeaker, it doesn’t matter. Using your phone in any capacity reduces your attention from the task at hand – driving.”
While to some using a mobile at the wheel is a trivial concern, the recent convictions all involved an element of huge danger arising simply from the driver’s attention being diverted from the road.
In six cases drivers had ploughed straight into the back of stationary traffic or a broken down vehicle. Another three saw drivers drift into the path of and collide with oncoming traffic, and two involved the death of a pedestrian.
Despite the majority of UK motorists supporting a ban on the use of mobile phones at the wheel, there is clearly more work to be done, with around 100,000 tickets issued on average each year for that very offence.
Do you think there should be tougher penalties for those convicted of dangerous driving? Do you think using a mobile phone at the wheel should be illegal at all? Have your say below.