Serious Injury

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Briefing for MPs from Brake, the road safety charity
Road Safety Bill
Report stage: 9 October 2006
The Government’s Road Safety Bill is scheduled to have its Report stage in the House of Commons
on the afternoon of Monday 9 October 2006. MPs have a key opportunity to introduce extra
measures to maximise the impact of this legislation on reducing death and injury on UK roads.
Brake, the road safety charity, is urging MPs to support the following new clauses and amendments
which have been tabled to the Bill.
AMENDMENTS 26-29, 30-32, 47-48 (CLAUSE 20 OF THE BILL)
‘Hit and run’ killer drivers
We need a new law to tackle hit and run drivers who kill or seriously injure someone, often fleeing the scene
of a crash to try to escape the law. When a driver ‘runs’ from the scene of a crash, they lengthen the time
before the emergency services are called and can leave the person/people they hit to die or be further
injured by other vehicles.
Time and time again, these drivers are unlicensed, uninsured, or banned from driving due to previous
offences, or they flee the scene of the crash because they are committing another offence, such as drink or
drug-driving.
Incredibly, unless there is sufficient evidence for manslaughter (which is rarely brought) or ‘perverting the
course of justice’ in cases where a hit and run driver kills, there is no tough sentence available. Police must
prove that a driver’s standard of driving was ‘far below’ the standard of a competent and careful driver in
order to bring a charge which carries a tough jail sentence (death by dangerous driving). At the moment, the
maximum penalty for failing to stop and report an accident is just six months’ imprisonment or a fine.
The courts should be able to punish these offenders, who have no respect for the law, nor the lives they
devastate, by handing down tough prison sentences, regardless of whether it can be proven they were
driving dangerously at the time of the crash.
The Government is acting through the Road Safety Bill to enable tougher charges and penalties to be
brought when drivers who kill are driving illegally by being unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured. These
crucial amendments would enable the new offence already in the Bill to be extended to drivers who
kill, then drive illegally by leaving the scene of the crash.
New clause NC15 is also seeking tough penalties for people who fail to stop at the scene of a crash.
CASE STUDIES
5 MONTHS FOR HIT AND RUN KILLER DRIVER
Driver Neil Simpson killed 20-year-old Tom Jones on April 28 2006 when he drove into him as he walked
down a country lane in Ramsey St Mary’s in Cambridgeshire. Tom was catapulted into a river, and Simpson
fled the scene and did not report the crash. He later told his boss and police that his smashed windscreen
resulted from his having hit a deer. Simpson was found not guilty of driving carelessly and could not
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be charged with causing Tom’s death. He was sentenced to 5 months imprisonment for ‘failing to stop
and report an accident’ and driving without insurance.1
100 HOURS COMMUNITY SERVICE FOR HIT AND RUN DRIVER WHO KILLED AND INJURED
17-year-old Natalie Glasgow was killed and Stephanie Taylor, 16, seriously injured when Mark Hambleton
drove into them as they walked along a country lane in Essex. Natalie was thrown over Hambleton’s van by
the impact, but Hambleton drove away from the scene. He later insisted he had not seen the girls and
believed he hit a tree. The van was found the next day with its windscreen smashed. Traces of drugs and
alcohol were found in Hambleton’s blood, but he told police he had drunk alcohol and taken drugs after the
crash. Hambleton was not charged with causing Natalie's death because there was no evidence he
was driving dangerously before he hit her. He was charged for driving dangerously after the crash and
sentenced to 100 hours of community service. 2
12 WEEKS FOR HIT AND RUN KILLER DRIVER
Levi Bleasdale, aged three, died on 10 September 2005 when driver Mohammed Hussain hit her as she
crossed Ormerod Road in Burnley, holding her mother’s hand. Hussain, 26, who only had a provisional
licence and was in a stolen car, drove off from the scene of the crash and dumped the vehicle. When
caught, he admitted careless driving, having no licence or insurance, failing to stop and failing to report an
accident. As the CPS decided the appropriate charge was dangerous, rather than careless driving,
Hussain was not charged with causing Levi’s death. Hussain was sentenced in February 2006 to 12
weeks each for the fail to stop and fail to report charges, to run concurrently and banned from driving for five
years. Levi’s mother, Kirsty Ryan, said: “This sentence is disgusting.”3
9 MONTHS FOR HIT AND RUN KILLER DRIVER
Driver Leo Hoare left motorcyclist Kevin Hughes, 41, to die at the roadside in October 2005 after he
smashed into the father-of-one, sending his motorbike careering into a brick wall by the A5, between Capel
Curig and Betws-y-Coed in North Wales. Hoare tried to cover up the accident by repairing and selling his
van. Hoare was not charged with causing Kevin’s death. He was found guilty of careless driving, which
does not carry a prison sentence, but was sentenced in July 2006 to nine months’ imprisonment for failing to
stop and report an accident and attempting to pervert the course of justice. He was released from prison
after 10 weeks.4
HIT AND RUN IS MANSLAUGHTER
Kirsty Cash,18, died after her boyfriend Andrew Bennett, 20, failed to call an ambulance for her when she
was thrown through the windscreen of his car in a crash. Bennett crashed into a row of trees in Sheffield in
April 2006, but told a friend not to call an ambulance, as he was an unlicensed driver and didn’t want to get
caught. He took Kirsty, who was still alive at the time, back to his home, where he put her in bed. He only
called an ambulance 45 minutes later, once he noticed that she had stopped breathing. Bennett was
charged with manslaughter and received an indefinite prison sentence. He must spend four and a half years
in jail before he can be considered for parole.5
AMENDMENTS 20-23, 25, 27, 31, 33-40 (SECTION 19 OF THE BILL)
NEW CLAUSES NC26, NC31, NC32
Causing serious injury by dangerous/ careless driving
We need a criminal charge for seriously injuring someone by dangerous driving. At present, there is no
equivalent of ‘grievous bodily harm’ for injuring someone, even when the injuries such as serious brain
injuries, spinal injuries, including paralysis, or internal organ damage has devastated lives.
1
Daily Express, 14.07.06
Daily Mirror, 04.07.06
3 Burnley Express, 16.09.05; Road Safety Bill, 2nd reading debate, Hansard 08.03.06; Family Fury at Driver’s Sentence, BBC News,
22.02.06
4 North Wales Daily Post, 02.10.06
5 Sheffield Today, 03.10.06; BBC News website, 26.09.06
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A 2002 Department for Transport report, Dangerous driving and the law, recommended: “In any offence
where consequences form part of the charge, then serious injury should be taken into account as well as
death. The current offence of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving should therefore be extended to include
severe injuries. This would recognise the suffering and impact that severe and permanent injuries have both
on the victim and their family.”
A charge of ‘causing death or grievous bodily injury’ by dangerous driving already exists in Northern Ireland
but not in the rest of the UK.
These amendments and new clauses would enable the charges and penalties for ‘causing death’ by
driving to be extended to drivers who cause ‘grievous bodily harm’ in a crash.
CASE STUDIES
£45 FOR CARELESS DRIVING… NOTHING FOR PARALYSING VIVIAN
Peshrau Mohammed ploughed head-on into a car being driven by 65-year-old Vivian Sadler in October
2005 while overtaking two vehicles at once on the A684 road between Bedale and Northallerton in North
Yorkshire. Mrs Sadler was very seriously injured, and has been in intensive care for many months. She has
been told that she is paralysed from the waist down and will never walk again. Mohammed was charged
with careless driving and received a three year ban and a £45 fine to cover court costs.6
15 MONTHS FOR DANGEROUS DRIVING… NOTHING FOR ANTHONY’S BRAIN INJURY, LOSS OF
VISION AND BROKEN BONES
Boxer Naseem Hamed broke almost every bone in Anthony Burgin’s body when he caused a 90mph headon crash on 2 May 2005 while overtaking on the brow of a hill on Ringinglow Road, in Sheffield. Mr Burgin
suffered lasting physical injuries which mean he may never work or lead an independent life again. He also
suffered brain injury and now has permanently damaged vision. Hamed received a 15-month sentence in
May 2006 for dangerous driving, but was released from jail after just 16 weeks.7
TWO YEARS FOR UNLICENSED, DRUNK, SPEEDING, DANGEROUS DRIVING… NOTHING FOR
RACHEL’S BRAIN INJURY AND PARALYSIS
Rachel Jones, 13, was crossing a road in Aberdare, Wales, with friends on 14 February, 2004, when a car
being driven by Carl Smith, a 26-year-old unlicensed driver, who had never passed a driving test, was drunk
and had taken five different drugs. He lost control, travelling at 98 mph. Rachel survived her horrific ordeal,
but was severely brain injured and will be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She has no movement in
the right side of her body. Rachel’s mum, Sheri Ozdemir, described Smith’s two-year jail sentence as "a
joke". She said: "He 'killed' the Rachel we had for 13 years and yet he can get away with doing just two
years. Rachel’s future as a bright and active young teenager was cruelly taken from her by a man who did
not even have a licence to drive a car.”8
NEW CLAUSES NC24, NC29
AMENDMENT 16
20mph default limit in urban areas
To protect our children, we need a default speed limit in urban areas of 20mph, not 30mph. The statistics
supporting this change are compelling:
 At 20mph, a child on foot has a 90% chance of survival in a crash. At the current limit of 30mph they
only have about a 55% chance of survival.9
 Britain’s child pedestrian death rate is seven times higher than Finland and three and a half times higher
than Sweden, the Netherlands and Italy.10
6
Daily Mail, 18.09.06
Daily Mail, 05.09.06
8 BBC website 16.05.06, plus information from Sheri Ozdemir
9 Ashton, S.J and Mackay, G.M. Some characteristics of the population who suffer trauma as pedestrians when hit by cars (1979)
10 2004 figures from Road Casualties Great Britain: 2005, Department for Transport (2006)
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Breaking the speed limit or going too fast for conditions are contributory factors in more than a quarter of
fatal crashes (26%). Other common contributory factors include: being ‘careless, reckless or in a hurry’ –
a factor in 18% of fatal crashes; ‘failing to look properly’ – a factor in 17% of fatal crashes; and ‘loss of
control’ – a factor in 35% of fatal crashes. 11
Seven out of ten drivers (68%) say they drive at 35mph or faster in a 30mph limit, with 38% saying they
do this at least once a week.12
However, the vast majority of drivers – nine out of ten (89%) - support 20mph limits outside
schools.13
We need speed limits of no higher than 20mph, and where appropriate, 10mph, outside all schools and on
streets that are of residential purpose only. At 20mph, a child on foot has a 90% chance of survival in a
crash. This chance dwindles away at higher speeds, to almost no chance at 40mph. Speed limits of no
higher than 20mph in these areas could easily be achieved by lowering the general speed limit for all
restricted (i.e. 30mph roads).
The Government’s own road safety publicity campaigns highlight the risks of driving at 30mph or more in
urban areas. The current TV ads from the Think! campaign feature a child saying: "Hit at 40 mph: there’s an
80% chance I'll die. Hit at 30 mph: there’s an 80% chance I'll live".
In 2005, Brake carried out a survey of 10,376 children aged 5-14 across the UK – thought to be the biggest
of its kind. The results were released at the November launch of Road Safety Week 2005. Brake found:
 Seven in ten children (69%) don’t walk or cycle because of fast traffic
 Nearly six in ten (57%) say traffic needs slowing down on the route between their home and school
 More than four in ten (42%) say the road between their home and school is dangerous
 More than half (52%) fear for their safety while walking and cycling
 More than four in ten (42%) fear being hit by a vehicle more than being attacked or robbed by a stranger
 More than four in ten (43%) have been hit or nearly hit while walking or cycling
 More than four in ten (42%) know someone in their area who’s been hurt or killed in a road crash
 Seven in ten (70%) worry about a loved one being killed on the road
Adults also worry about their safety on foot due to the speed of traffic. In a 2006 Brake and Green Flag
motoring assistance survey of drivers, seven out of ten drivers (68%) admitted consciously worrying about
being hit by vehicles when on foot. 14
These new clauses and amendment would change the ‘default’ restricted speed limit in urban areas
from 30mph to 20mph. As with the 30mph, the 20mph limit would still be able to be varied in appropriate
locations, where safety measures were in place to protect vulnerable road users.
CASE STUDY
30MPH TOO FAST IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS
Five-year-old Carema Allen was killed on foot on 26 April 1999, while playing 200 yards from her home. She
ran out onto a 30mph road in the Braniel residential estate in Belfast. The car that killed Carema was
coming around a bend and was not speeding, but did not have time to stop.15
20MPH ZONES IN EDINBURGH, HULL AND ACROSS BRITAIN SAVE LIVES
Edinburgh - In 2002, Edinburgh City Council introduced 20mph zones outside schools. Of the city's 129
primary schools, 119 now have 20mph limits, along with the 21 of the 33 secondary schools which have
joint campuses with primaries. In June 2006, Edinburgh City Council reported that there had been no child
deaths on Edinburgh roads since 2002, compared to eight children killed from 2000 to 2002. Serious injuries
had also fallen by more than half: in 2004, child casualty rates were the lowest for more than 50 years.
11
Contributory factors to road accidents, Department for Transport (2006)
Brake and Green Flag Report on Safe Driving Part Two: Speed, 2004
13 Brake and Green Flag Report on Safe Driving Part Two: Speed, 2004
14 Brake and Green Flag Report on Safe Driving Part Four: A Risky Business, 2006
15 Information from Carema’s family and her school website, www.branielps.belfast.ni.sch.uk/carema
12
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Hull - In the mid-1990s Hull City Council launched a programme of implementing 20mph speed limit zones
to tackle casualty rates for child pedestrians and cyclists. On average, each zone has reduced overall
injuries by around 60% and child pedestrian injuries by 75%. Hull's crash reductions had saved an
estimated £35m by 2002.
Findings from a Transport Research Laboratory analysis of 20 mph zone pilot projects across England,
Wales and Scotland, indicate that on average, speeds dropped by 9 mph, annual collision figures fell by
60% and the overall reduction in child casualties was 67%. 16
AMENDMENTS 4-5 (SECTION 16 OF THE BILL)
Fixed penalty points
This section, currently in the Road Safety Bill, would allow fixed penalty points for speeding to vary from 2 to
6, instead of the current automatic 3 points.
The Government has indicated that 2 points – rather than the current 3 – could be imposed when a driver
drives at up to 39mph in a 30mph zone17, meaning a driver would have to commit this offence six times
before receiving a ban.
To protect our children, penalties for speeding in built-up areas – where kids are most likely to be
out and about on foot and bicycles – must not be reduced. Given that driving at 39mph makes death a
high probability if the vehicle hits a pedestrian, compared with a probability of survival at speeds below
30mph, Brake believes the proposal to reduce points for speeding in a 30mph zone is a road danger, not a
road safety, measure that impacts on communities’ human right to safety, and has no place in a Road
Safety Bill.
This amendment to the Bill would ensure that the number of fixed penalty points for speeding and
other offences are not reduced.
CASE STUDIES
SIX POINTS FOR SPEEDING DRIVER WHO KILLED GIRL
Shane Farrell, 31, of Manchester, was fined £750 with £400 costs and six points on his licence by Salford
Magistrates Court. His car hit pedestrian Amber Lok, 13, as she stepped into the road. Farrell said he was
travelling at between 35mph and 40mph but police estimated he was doing 32mph after braking hard. He
denied careless driving but was found guilty.18
THREE POINTS FOR PERSISTENT SPEEDER
A pensioner caught speeding four times on the same road in six days has escaped a ban. The 74-year-old
from Wick admitted to exceeding the 30mph speed limit and was ordered to pay a £300 fine with £50 costs
and had three points on his licence.19
NEW CLAUSE, NC1
Driving on illegal drugs
Although we have legislation which enables police to charge drivers who have a certain level of alcohol in
their blood, without having to prove that their driving was impaired by the alcohol, there is currently no
equivalent charge of driving on illegal drugs.
16
Review of traffic calming schemes in 20 mph zones, TRL Report 215 (1996)
Graduated fixed penalties for speeding offences - discussion note, Department for Transport (2004)
18 Daily Express, 27.04.06
19 Littlehampton Gazette, 01.09.05
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This means police can ONLY charge someone driving on illegal drugs with a driving offence, if they can
prove that their driving was impaired.20
There is no doubt that driving on illegal drugs is a problem on our roads:


Research into the behaviour of young drivers by driver behaviour psychologist Professor Steve
Stradling, on behalf of Brake, the road safety charity, found:
o 15% said they had been a passenger with a young driver on drugs.
o 19% said they said they’d ridden a bike high on drugs
o 7% said they had driven after taking illegal drugs
DfT research by TRL checking for drugs in dead drivers have shown that driving on illegal drugs has
increased six-fold since the 1980s, with one in six dead drivers (18%, up from 3%) having traces of
illegal drugs in their system that may have affected their driving.
Researchers into the effects of illegal drugs on driving have found:
Cannabis – affects tasks requiring psycho-motor skills and continuous attention. Onset of effects
immediate, duration 1-4 hours. Roadside observations: smell; poor balance and coordination; impaired
perception of time and distance; red eyes; increased appetite; relaxed inhibitions; disorientation; poor
attention span; pupils possibly dilated.
Opiates – Effects depend on tolerance developed by user. Onset of effects in seconds, duration 6-8 hours
(up to 24 for methadone). Roadside observations: constricted pupils; sleepy; slow reflexes; low slow
speech; possible euphoria.
CNS stimulants (cocaine, amphetamines, E) - sense of super strength and self-confidence. Duration of
effect – 30 minutes for cocaine, 4-6 hours for amphetamines, several hours for E. Roadside observations –
dilated pupils, eyelid tremors, restlessness, won’t keep quiet, euphoria, easily irritated, grinding teeth,
impaired perception of time.21
We want drivers registering any level of illegal drugs in their system to be prosecuted, whether or not
it can be proved their driving was impaired. This new clause would introduce a charge of driving on
illegal drugs, which would not require impairment to be proved.
CASE STUDY
NO CHARGE, NO PENALTY, FOR DRUG DRIVER WHO KILLED
Isabella Hill, aged 4, died in July 2005 after the car she was in, which was being driven by her granddad,
was hit by a driver who had been smoking cannabis. Barnaby Pearce, 19, who was driving at 75mph in a
60mph zone, admitted smoking two cannabis joints earlier in the day but said his judgment was not affected.
Despite coroner Michael Johnston warning that "Cannabis distorts a driver's ability to react," NO charges
were bought against Pearce.22
To discuss any of these amendments with Brake, obtain extra information on
any of the issues, or find out if Brake has case studies relating to crashes in
your constituency, call Rachel Burr, campaigns officer, on 01484 559909.
Brake, the national road safety charity, provides administrative assistance for
the All-Party Parliamentary Group on road safety. The current chairs of the
Group are: David Burrowes MP, Bob Russell MP and Iain Wright MP. To
register as a member of the group, contact Rachel Burr at Brake.
Road Traffic Act 1988, Part I, section 4, “Driving, or being in charge, when under influence of drink or drugs”. “(1) A person who,
when driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle on a road or other public place, is unfit to drive through drink or drugs is guilty of
an offence.” “(5) For the purposes of this section, a person shall be taken to be unfit to drive if his ability to drive properly is for the
time being impaired.”
21 Information from Dr Rob Tunbridge, independent alcohol and drug consultant, at Brake’s conference on drink and drugs, 2005
22 Daily Mirror, 12.08.05
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