It is over seven years since my accident, but still these stories catch my attention.
The latest was a story in Wednesday’s Metro about a lady who had killed a cyclist whilst adjusting her sat-nav and driving blind for 20 seconds.
She is being prosecuted for causing death by careless driving, Why not manslaughter? That is the penalty for occidentally killing someone by neglect, Unless you are in Britain. Here we have laws which mean that killing someone through your neglect is less of an offence if you are driving a vehicle than it is if you are not in a vehicle. Why protect the motorist? Is is less bad to lose a loved one through a road accident than by other means?
Imagine this conversation:
Knock on door. Door opens.
Policeman: Mrs Smith?
Mrs Smith: Yes.
P: I am sorry that I have to inform you that your husband John has tragically died in an accident
Mrs S: That’s terrible, (starts crying) When did this happen?
P: He has hit by a car earlier this afternoon.
Mrs S: A car? Why didn’t you say that? That’s all right then.
Yes the above scenario is stupid. It is never going to happen. It is just as tragic to lose someone through a road accident as through, say, an accident at work. Accidents happen, people die, sometimes it is no ones fault, but the anguish is not lessened if there is a car involved. Sadly the British law does not reflect this.
But we need lesser laws because in the UK it is hard to get convictions for manslaughter. The culture is such that juries were failing to convict, and people were walking away free. So we brought in a law of causing death by dangerous driving, but still drivers were not getting convicted, so we have the even lesser offence of causing death by careless driving. How can doing something that causes death not be dangerous? Have I been looking up the definition of dangerous in the wrong dictionary?
We need to challenge the culture. To challenge the idea that people who drive dangerously are not real criminals. To remind drivers that when they get into their car they are taking control of what is potentially a lethal weapon, which they have to treat as such.
I am not anti car. I love careful drivers. But we need to treat those who drive dangerously as the criminals they are.