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Speeding is something that most drivers have done, consciously or inadvertently, whether it is as a result of running late for a meeting or due to not paying attention to the speed limits in force on a particular road. Getting a speeding fine is seen by many as a minor inconvenience. However, speeding can have very real consequences and there are calls for tougher sentences to be introduced.

Consequences of Speeding

The recently settled case of six-year-old Cerys Edwards certainly makes the point. This little girl was left severely brain damaged after an accident in 2006 involving a speeding motorist who hit her parent’s car head-on. The driver, Antonio Singh Boparan, was travelling at 70 mph in a 30 mph zone. Although he was sentenced to 21 months, he was released on curfew after only serving six months.

Such a sentence can have been of little comfort to Cerys or her family. Since the accident, she has been unable to breathe without a ventilator, has had numerous operations and has required 24-hour care from a team of carers and nurses. While she has recently been awarded nearly £5 million in damages and £450,000 a year for care costs as compensation for the accident, making a personal injury claim under such circumstances can never provide adequate restitution.

Sentencing

It is also difficult to see how the sentence passed on the negligent driver provides sufficient justice in cases such as that of Cerys Edwards. One of the key difficulties judges face when such cases of dangerous driving come before them is that they are only able to apply the maximum sentence of two years that currently exists on the statute books. The government is, however, proposing that a new offence of causing serious injury by driving dangerously be introduced. This will incur a possible prison sentence of five years.

Speeding in Britain & the US

While injuries such as those suffered by Cerys Edwards are thankfully rare, speeding is a real issue on the UK’s roads. In 2010 more than two thousand people received convictions for dangerous driving and some 175 were found guilty of death by dangerous driving; while the United States represents similarly poor figures relative to population – 40,000 people killed every year, with many of those are directly attributed towards reckless drivers. Such figures are only the tip of the iceberg, however, as there must be many more unidentified instances of speeding.

Solutions

Whether introducing tougher laws for speeding drivers will have any long-term effect remains to be seen. There is an argument that sentencing should not relate to the consequences of speeding but to the offending behaviour. After all, the same act of speeding could result in nothing happening, a near miss or a serious accident. Which of these will occur is dependent on a number of factors outside of the speeding driver’s control.

Such an argument is unpalatable for many, however and tougher sentences should, at the very least, have the effect of making people think a little more about the potential consequences of their actions when driving. It would also provide a greater degree of justice for the victims of serious accidents and their families when speeding was the overriding factor. Although Boparan could not have contemplated the devastating effect his actions would have that day in 2006, by driving at 70 mph in a 30 mph zone he was behaving in a highly risky manner and it is difficult to argue that his sentence fitted his crime.

This post was written on behalf of Hughes Carlisle Law. For further legal content on the web, visit our site for specialist advice and support.