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A strenuous day

Motorists risk jail for using phones in car

Link: Motorists risk jail for using phones in car | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics.

There is so much free space in British jails that the Government wants to fill them with mobile phone users. Not to mention people who have been involved in car accidents - even if the only "victims" were their own children, travelling with them.

Motorists are well incentivised to drive carefully because - even with modern safety aids - they occupy the most dangerous seat in the car. What sane person would infer criminal intent on the part of someone who has killed or injured his or her own child by careless driving? What happened to "Accidents will happen?" or to "There, but for the Grace of God, go I."

But then, for Labour, driving a car (as opposed to being driven in one by a Government employee) is quite sufficient evidence of criminality.


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It's almost as ridiculous as paying junkies in jail compensation for being refused drugs.

Jeremy Jacobs

I suppose the next thing, they'll be jailing us for walking on the cracks in the pavement.

Not Saussure

I agree with you, but I don't think criminal intent comes into it; the Sentencing Council Causing Death By Dangerous Driving (a crime for which there need be no intent; you can be guilty of dangerous driving because you're a dangerously incompetent driver), which were prepared in 2003, before this new law was even thought of, very sensibly say,

The key problem for a sentencer dealing with this offence is the tension between the outcome of the offence (which is inevitably the death of at least one victim) and the degree of the offender’s culpability. The Panel’s provisional view, that the offender’s culpability should be the dominant component in the sentencing exercise but that the outcome of the offence should have some effect, was strongly endorsed by the majority of respondents to the consultation paper. The Panel understands the view of the minority, that causing death is invariably a very serious crime, but reaffirms its initial view that culpability must be the dominant factor when the offence involves no intention to kill or injure.

The government has clearly gone with the views of the minority, as then perceived by the report's authors. I don't think this is so much because of a bias against motorists as a bias against the tabloids running stories about grieving parents' reactions when a driver ends up with a fine and disqualification after an accident that caused the death of their child, usually including the views that 'this is a travesty of justice, it's an insult to our daughter's memory and it's a lifetime sentence for us'.

As to charging practice if the only death caused is that of a passenger, the present CPS guidelines on nearest and dearest issues do show a degree of humanity, which one hopes will continue.

I'm with Professor Lewis Wolpert, who once suggested the greatest single road safety measure you could take would be to ban seat belts and insist, instead, that all cars be fitted with a sharp, jagged spike protruding several inches from the centre of the steering column.

Tom Paine

incentivize |inˈsentəˌvīz| |ɪnˈsɛntəˌvaɪz|,
verb [ trans. ]
provide (someone) with an incentive for doing something : this is likely to incentivize management to find savings.

Paul Coombes

What does incentivise mean? I am guessing you meant motivated.

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