Road Safety and the Legal Framework — [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:45 am on 20th November 2018.

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Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk 9:45 am, 20th November 2018

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point, but for the sake of our justice system, it cannot be right that a life is lost and the person responsible for that loss of life faces only a £200 penalty as a consequence. There is surely something fundamentally wrong with our justice system if that is how it works. It is clearly not good either for the victim or for their friends and family if justice is not seen to be delivered, so I think there is a strong case to look at sentencing and the guidance given to the judiciary in such cases.

We are calling for a much wider review of road safety offences than is currently proposed. The Government have taken action, which is to be welcomed. The announcement of life sentences for causing death by dangerous driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol was overdue, although it needs to be implemented soon. The Department for Transport also has plans for a pilot scheme that will offer driving instructors training to put cyclists’ safety at the forefront of their minds when teaching new drivers, and The Highway Code review, with a focus on cyclist and pedestrian safety, is also a good step forward. However, the Government need a wide-ranging review of motoring offences as a matter of urgency.

The Government are right to look again at the law surrounding injury or fatalities caused by cyclists. I have every sympathy with Matt Briggs, who lost his wife, Kim, when she was killed by a reckless cyclist. Kim’s father is a constituent of mine who lives in Coldstream, my own town. It makes no sense to focus on cycling offences without reviewing the much greater number of motorist offences. It is time for the Government to improve road safety for our most vulnerable road users, clear up the inconsistencies caused by the current dangerous and careless driving offences, and review the law on penalty points and hit and run offences.

My party rightly has a reputation for being tough on crime, but I feel we make an exception as a party—indeed, we make an exception as a society—if the crime is committed behind the wheel. Perhaps it is because cars are so commonplace and so central to our daily lives that their potential danger has become normalised. It is time to tackle this issue and send out a clear message to the small minority of irresponsible motorists that the safety of vulnerable road users is more important. I look forward to hearing from colleagues during this debate and from the Minister at the end.