Dangerous driving: tougher laws?

* Maximum jail term could rise * Campaign by injured girl's parents * No changes until after election...

Dangerous driving: tougher laws?

Dangerous drivers who cause serious injuries should be locked up for longer, Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced today.

He pledged to increase the maximum prison sentence for dangerous driving from two to five years.

Mr Straw said: 'Dangerous driving can destroy lives and have a devastating impact on the families and friends of its victims.

'We have listened with great care to the innocent victims of dangerous drivers, their families and road safety groups, and their experiences have directly informed these changes.'

Innocent victims
The family of one such victim, toddler Cerys Edwards, claimed victory campaigning for a change in the law.

Cerys was just one when she was left paralysed after being hit by a driver travelling at more than 70mph in a 30mph zone in 2006.

The driver, Antonio Boparan, was convicted of dangerous driving and jailed for 21 months. However, he was released after six.

Cerys' father Gareth welcomed the proposal. 'After 18 months of campaigning, we feel relieved that they have listened to us,' he said.

'No family should have to go through what we have gone through.'

No change until the election
Although Jack Straw said the Government was determined to make this change in the law, nothing will be done until after the general election.

'Introducing new laws takes time, so this cannot be put on the statute book immediately,' Mr Straw said. 'It will therefore take some time before it can be brought into effect.'

Response: Brake
Road safety charity Brake called for further increases in the maximum sentence.

Campaigns manager Ellen Booth said: 'A charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, which should carry a much higher sentence than five years, is still urgently needed.

'Families who are left caring for their loved ones for a lifetime will still find it hard to believe they have received justice when a dangerous driver receives only a maximum of five years in jail.'

Response: Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM)

The IAM welcomed the Government's tough stance, but called for 'high-profile enforcement' to ensure the new laws are effective.

In a statement, the IAM said: 'Dangerous driving cannot be enforced by cameras, and more traffic police will be needed to catch those drivers who flaunt the law.'