Should sentencing be tougher?

Last week Road.cc published a post about motoring offences and tougher sentencing. Certainly we can see from their post that there is such a variance in how offending motorists are changed in these cases.

They touch on the fact that we need more than just tougher sentencing to drivers that show willful neglect to the safety of others. We also need:

  • Better driver training
  • Investment in cycling infrastructure
  • More substantial driving bans and non-custodial punishments.

I think we need two further things: Stricter following of points system and more traffic police.

Every year or so there is an article in the press about how many drivers are driving with more than 12 points on their license. Our current system works based on a points system where you are allowed 12 points on your license, after 5 years these are removed. If you go over the 12 points then you lose your license. But it seems that claiming exceptional hardship to not having your license results in you being allowed to carry on driving. This undermines the system. Everyone knows how this works (or should do) and if you are close to the 12 points limit then you should be careful.

This BBC article from 2017 states that over 10,000 motorists are driving with more than 12 points on their license. That’s 10,000 people who for some reason can’t follow the rules and as such accumulated more points that allowed. Because of magistrates allowing people who plead exceptional hardship for various reasons (along the lines of not having a car will impact their lives), these should have been reasons for driving safely, especially when already accumulated points on their license. This makes the system a mockery, those of us who drive safely and understand the potential danger we could cause with our several tonne vehicle when driven at speed or distracted, are doing so pointlessly when those that should be punished harshly for not following the rules that they must do with in accordance of their license go basically unpunished.
Worth noting that the DVLA have said that the 10,000 motorists reported to have more than 12 points on their license also included motorists who had already served a ban for said points and as such the figure isn’t totally accurate.

We also need more traffic police, with cuts to police forces across the country, one of the first hit front line units is the traffic unit. This has an unfortunate affect or people not being pulled over for their driving mistakes and learning that they need to do better. As a result people get bad habits, and drive with the impression that they won’t get stopped for doing anything.
Often you will hear people say that it is a waste of time doing minor traffic stops and the police should focus on more serious crimes. In reality however these minor traffic stops can and often result in more serious crimes being picked up.

I already see there is a huge variance in how police forces deal with traffic offences reported to them via members of the public. I posted at the end of 2018 about the successes I’ve had with my reports to the MET. Comments that I often get back on tweets like these are from other people in the country saying how their police force doesn’t care and does nothing.
I’ve reported to the MET for the past 9 or so years and have seen a massive change not only in how to report but also of staff levels and commitment in future technologies. Their current online reporting form is very impressive, it’s regularly updated, with one of the more recent updates being the ability to upload video footage on their portal.
It’s so impressive in fact that they and providing the same form to other police forces around the country. Surrey police for example use the same form.

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