Under the new careless driving laws, which came into effect from 18 August 2008, motorists who kill whilst avoidably distracted at the wheel will face prison.
The new offences will allow courts to imprison drivers for up to five years who cause deaths by not paying due care to the road, or to other road users.
The type of ‘avoidable distractions’ covered by the new law include:
- using a mobile phone (calling or texting)
- drinking and eating
- applying make-up
- anything else which takes their attention away from the road and which a court judges to have been an avoidable distraction.
Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said:
"The Government is committed to continually improving safety on Britain's roads. Under the Road Safety Act we have already brought in tougher penalties for drivers who use hand-held mobile phones at the wheel and the introduction of these new offences today is the latest step to tackle bad driving and further improve safety on our roads.
Last year the number of people killed fell below 3,000 for the first time since records began in 1926 but eight people are still dying on the roads each day. Where carelessness - or an uninsured, disqualified or unlicensed driver - causes a death it is right that the driver should face tough penalties."