Introduce a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving to the law
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On the 1st January 2014, our younger 17 year old sister, Miriam, was hit by a car at a pedestrian crossing. The driver had driven through a red light. Miriam suffered a serious brain injury. She was not expected to survive. However, thanks to quick medical intervention and extensive continuing rehabilitation, she survived, albeit left permanently impaired and brain damaged. The effects of Miriam's accident have been life changing for all her family and friends, and most of all Miriam. She was due to go to university in 2014 to study nursing but it was put on hold. She struggles with every day things because of her disabilities.
The driver who hit her was only charged with 'driving without due care and attention' (careless driving). Under UK law, the typical punishment for this offence is 3-9 penalty points. A ban from driving is only discretionary.
Here is the UK law on driving offences as it stands:
Causing death by dangerous driving = Maximum 14 years imprisonment + mandatory 2 year Disqualification
Causing serious injury by dangerous driving = Maximum 5 years imprisonment + mandatory 2 year disqualification.
Causing death by careless driving = maximum 5 years imprisonment and 1 year mandatory DQ.
Careless driving (note no recognition of level of injury below death) = Maximum level 5 fine + 3-9 points (Disqualification from driving is discretionary).
There is no separate offence of ‘causing serious injury by careless driving’. Our family feel that this is a huge gap in the law that needs to be filled. Why should the fortunate fact that someone survives affect the chance of the driver being disqualified. If she had died he would have received a 1 year mandatory disqualification and our family would not have had to worry about the prospect of him getting mere points for what happened.
We feel that it is time that driving offences were taken more seriously so that other families do not have to go through what we have been through. There needs to be:
- More clarity in the law as to what constitutes ‘careless’ as opposed to ‘dangerous driving’, especially given the huge difference in punishment between these two offences.
- A new offence of ‘causing serious injury by careless driving’
- Mandatory need to sit an extended driving test in order to be able to drive on the roads again post-disqualification.
Our family has felt incredibly let down by the justice system and we can only hope that things can improve for future victims like Miriam. Miriam may not have got the justice she deserved but we want to make sure other families do and do not have to go through what our family went through. Please sign our petition today to help raise awareness and to change the law.
Kirsty and Loren, Miriam’s sisters
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