Prosecutions for dangerous driving may have fallen, according to new statistics, but only because the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has moved the goal posts.
Despite the CPS announcing they are going to get tough on bad driving, nothing has changed. They still prefer to charge dangerous drivers with careless driving because they are more sure of a conviction!
It makes mockery of the government?s so called commitment to encourage walking and cycling.
It has infuriated the CTC, the national cyclists organisation, whose campaigns and policy manager Roger Geffen wrote to The Times about it recently, criticising ?the feebleness of our legal system??
According to the Ministry of Justice the number of drivers prosecuted for ‘dangerous’ driving fell by over a third between 2003 and 2006, while the number of penalty notices for mere ‘careless’ driving offences increased over the same period.
The CTC say there are declining numbers of traffic police to investigate bad driving offences, so cops are more likely to issue a ticket for careless driving. This reinforces the view that driving dangerously is not really a serious crime, says Geffen.
In his letter to The Times, Geffen said the problem goes back to at least 2003 when the Commons Transport Select Committee revealed that the CPS was going for the easier option and pressing charges of careless driving instead of dangerous driving.
?New data suggests, if anything, the situation has since worsened significantly,? Geffen wrote.
?Even excluding the new category of mobile phone offences, summary actions for careless driving have risen steeply while prosecutions for dangerous driving have nose-dived. This surely isn?t down to any improvement in driving standards.?
Geffen goes on to point out that dangerous driving effects children more than most, and anyone on foot or on a bike.
?With 3,200 people being killed on our roads each year, the legal system must signal very clearly that this is not the result of mere ?accidents?? concludes Geffen.
The CTC, together with some 70 transport and health organisations, is demanding 20mph be made the default urban speed limit on all but the most major routes. They are also calling for 10 percent of transport budgets are ring-fenced for improving walking and cycling conditions.
Bad driving needs to be severely dealt with and every transport and land use decision ought to be ?health-checked?.