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Jail threat for drivers who kill while phoning

15 августа 2008

Drivers who kill while chatting on their mobile phones or putting on make-up face up to five years in jail under tough laws that come into force next week.

The new offence of causing death by careless driving will for the first time allow courts to imprison motorists who are not paying attention to the road or other road users when a fatal accident occurs. Historically, careless driving has been punishable by a maximum fine of £5,000, regardless of the severity of the consequences.

"Driving requires full concentration at all times," said the justice minister Maria Eagle. "A moment's distraction can make the difference between life and death."

The new laws will also punish unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured motorists who kill, with up to two years in prison.

Research from the Association of British Insurers shows uninsured drivers are among the most dangerous motorists, being 10 times more likely to have been convicted for drink driving.

Causing death by dangerous driving already carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

The new offence is designed to cover the scenario where the driving is not so obviously bad or risky as to fall into the category of "dangerous" driving but nevertheless has fatal results.

While motorists are hit with thousands of fines for careless driving each year, only a fraction of those incidents involve serious injury or death.

The Ministry of Justice said it expected the new legislation to result in a custodial sentence being imposed in about 150 cases each year.

Distractions the courts will consider when sentencing motorists who have killed include using a mobile phone - both calling and texting - eating, drinking and applying make-up.

Источник: Financial Times

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