Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Higher prison sentences unlikely to deter ‘death by driving’ offenses, academic says

Date:
June 17, 2014
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
An English academic suggests new government laws could fail as a deterrent against crimes committed while driving. In the wake of the Government's recent announcement of a comprehensive review of driving offenses and penalties, an academic has argued that higher prison sentences could fail to act as a deterrent against 'death by driving' offenses -- and that it is the punishment for underlying offenses that should instead be revised.

University of Leicester academic Professor Sally Kyd Cunningham suggests new Government laws could fail as a deterrent against crimes committed while driving

Related Articles


In the wake of the Government's recent announcement of a comprehensive review of driving offences and penalties, an academic from the University of Leicester has argued that higher prison sentences could fail to act as a deterrent against 'death by driving' offences -- and that it is the punishment for underlying offences that should instead be revised.

Professor Sally Kyd Cunningham from the University of Leicester's School of Law has called into question the effectiveness of two controversial new offences: 'causing death by driving by disqualified driving' and 'causing serious injury by disqualified driving', suggesting that the laws will ultimately do little to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused in driving crashes.

Professor Kyd Cunningham explained: "It is difficult to see how any causing death by driving offence can act as a deterrent, no matter how high the sentence attached to it.

"When drivers get behind the wheel, they do not think about whether they might cause a collision or whether it is they or another road user that might be killed. Neither do they think about the punishment they might receive as a result if they survive the crash.

"If the law is to have a deterrent effect, it is the underlying offences which should receive our attention, as punishing people involved in driving collisions with higher sentences does little to reduce the chance of these crimes occurring.

"One suggestion is that driving whilst disqualified should itself attract a higher maximum sentence to act as a deterrent. At the moment it carries a maximum of six months' imprisonment, and is only tried in the magistrates' court."

Professor Kyd Cunningham's research broadly covers the fields of criminal law and criminal justice -- what amounts to a crime and how crimes are dealt with by the state, including how crimes are investigated, prosecuted and punished.

Her research also suggests that there is a paradox between how the media portrays driving offences, creating a situation where disqualified drivers are classed as criminals while speeding drivers are not classed as criminal until a collision occurs.

She added: "Many people fail to view driving offences as 'crimes' unless harm is caused. It isn't accepted that minor offences are truly criminal or wrong, because people don't see that the mere creation of a risk of death or serious harm is in itself something we wish to avoid.

"The media is often seen to support campaigns calling for the criminal justice system to come down heavily on drivers who cause death. At the same time, however, the media often condemns the police for spending too much time and resources chasing what the media portray to be otherwise law-abiding motorists who break the speed limit or are involved in some other 'minor' driving offence.

"There seems to be a blind spot here; it is not seen how risk-taking that luckily fails to result in any harm is connected to cases where unluckily risk-taking has catastrophic consequences. With the offence of causing death by careless driving, otherwise law-abiding citizens might find themselves facing a serious criminal charge as the result of a moment's inattention.

"While there have been major changes in the way that the police investigate such cases and in the way that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) works with the police and with bereaved victims, there are still improvements that can be made."

Professor Kyd Cunningham discussed Government changes to driving offences and penalties at a panel debate in London on Friday 13 June which was hosted by the National Cycling Charity (CTC). Officials from the Sentencing Council were in attendance and the CTC launched its latest Road Justice campaign reports.

Her report to the CPS, funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Early Career Fellowship between October 2011 and June 2012, can be found here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/law/people/documents/prosecutorial-decision-making-following-the-road-safety-act-2006-final-report-to-the-crown-prosecution-service

The report has been used to assist in formulating a scoping document that defines the parameters of a joint review between Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary of criminal charges relating to road traffic fatalities that will be taking place this year.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Higher prison sentences unlikely to deter ‘death by driving’ offenses, academic says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617093716.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2014, June 17). Higher prison sentences unlikely to deter ‘death by driving’ offenses, academic says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617093716.htm
University of Leicester. "Higher prison sentences unlikely to deter ‘death by driving’ offenses, academic says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617093716.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU, Russia, Ukraine Seal Breakthrough Gas Accord

EU, Russia, Ukraine Seal Breakthrough Gas Accord

AFP (Oct. 31, 2014) Russia agrees to resume gas deliveries to war-torn Ukraine through the winter in an EU-brokered, multi-billion dollar deal signed by the three parties in Brussels. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) A health group in the United Kingdom has called for mandatory calorie labels on alcoholic beverages in the European Union. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Relief After “gas War” Is Averted

Relief After “gas War” Is Averted

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 31, 2014) A gas war between Russia and Ukraine has been averted. But as Hayley Platt reports a deal was only reached after Kiev's western creditors agreed to partly funding the deal. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

AFP (Oct. 31, 2014) Focus on treating the Ebola epidemic in Liberia means that treatment for malaria, itself a killer, is hard to come by. MSF are now undertaking the mass distribution of antimalarials in Monrovia. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins