Death Penalties?The Magistrates Blog has written recently regarding penalties given to drivers who, through little other than simple bad driving have ended up causing the death of someone else. In most of these cases quoted, drink was not an issue, nor was malice - it was simply a mistake, that cost someone the ultimate price.
So what of the sentences? Lennie Briscoe, the very well written special constable felt that 2 years for the driver mentioned was too lenient. You can see his point of view - through that womans actions she caused the death of 3 children and one adult. It was entirely her fault for chosing to drive the way she did.
But is she inherently bad? Is she a criminal? (Forget for a second the technicality that she has been sentence for a criminal offence, you know what I mean) Shes never going to appear on police briefing systems as 'Most Wanted'. Prior to her accident, police weren't desparately looking for her car as her driving was bad enough to kill.
The simple fact here is that cars kill. They are lethal weapons, and people are given access to them with very little training (3 months average for what, 60 years at the wheel?). You can pass a test in a 1.0 diesel Mini Metro, and instantly have the right to jump into a 3.0 litre Subaru Impreza. You only have to demonstrate adherence to the laws for a 30 minute test with an instructor before you develop your own driving style.
The average driver sucks. They really do. The first thing I realised when I took my police driving courses was quite how bad I was at driving - and I thought before then that I had been pretty good. The only way to actually prevent these sorts of fatal road collisions is for everyone to drive as you would be taught to on an advanced driving course - unfortunately thats never going to happen.
I always remember something I was once told - the best deterrent to speeding would be to outlaw seatbelts and put a large spike on the middle of the steering wheel. People would drive a bit more carefully then. I am almost tempted to suggest that if someone is found to be at fault for two road traffic collisions, they lose their licence automatically for s short period (3 months), and have to take an extended retest including an advanced driving course. Hell, charge em for it - the government can made it self financing like most of the road penalties!
To come back to my original point, I don't know where I stand on the sentence of 2 years for the driver in question. Anyone taking our lives by any other means would be looking at five to ten times that amount, but simply because the average driver is a danger behind the wheel, people have sympathy for them.