Dangerous Driving — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:25 pm on 8th July 2019.

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Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Labour, Poplar and Limehouse 5:25 pm, 8th July 2019

The hon. Gentleman makes an appropriate point. Individual drivers have personal responsibility: when they get medication, they need to ensure that it does not impair their judgment and that they are not a risk to others on the road. Pharmaceutical companies have a role in that, because they should be printing large warning labels on medication to say: “Do you know this means you are not fit to drive?” GPs have a responsibility to report to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency drivers who are not fit to drive—be it for eyesight, mental health issues or other problems that individuals have—and individuals also have responsibility. Right across the piece, we all need to recognise that there are problems.

I have recently been looking at the issue of more frequent testing for the over-70s, because there have been some publicised cases of older drivers driving up motorways the wrong way and causing death. The evidence from other countries suggests that if mandatory testing is introduced for all over-70s or over-75s and they pass, they think they can go back to driving like they did when they were 45 or 50. It actually has a countereffect, and it is therefore not always easy to identify simple solutions. There are no simple solutions to this.

We are driving vehicles that can kill people and the responsibility lies with us, as well as with other people and other family members to ensure that we are safe when we get behind the wheel. That is not what we are talking about today; we are talking about criminals who deliberately do things that they ought not to be doing and who cause death and destruction, and grief and bereavement, to decent families across the country. I do not point the finger at the Conservative Government, because dangerous driving has affected all parties and Governments. As a Parliament, we need to ensure that we have the right penalty to fit the crime. If we do not, people outside will feel that they are not being well represented and will be forced to take action themselves.

I believe that we need to approach driving differently—educationally and culturally. Great progress has been made on improving the practical and theoretical driving tests in recent years, but there is more to be done. We must remember that we have among the safest roads in the world—we are usually in the top three countries for safe roads, but we are still killing 1,500 people a year. Dangerous, criminal drivers are hidden among all that, and they should be taken out and identified so that they act as a deterrent to other people who commit the same crimes.

As hon. Members have said, the punishment does not always match the crime at the moment. The petitioners are waiting to hear what the Government intend to do. Like other hon. Members, I have high regard for the Minister; I look forward to his response, which I hope will give us all some reassurance.