Death by dangerous driving jail terms are still too lenient

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Society now takes far more seriously than it once did the serious crime of driving in such a fashion that you cause the death of another human being.

Fifty years ago there was no such offence as causing death by dangerous driving.

Even the laws that did then exist with regard to motoring offences were rarely applied against people who killed other people as a result of reckless driving.

At the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s there were a number of years in which 300+ people died on the roads in Northern Ireland.

Traffic levels have more than doubled since then. Fatality rates from the 1960s and 70s if applied to current traffic levels would mean that 600+ people would die on the Province’s roads. The annual death toll is now about 10% of that number.

There are many reasons why our roads are much safer, but far stricter laws around drink-driving, speeding, careless driving and reckless driving are at the heart of that reduction in the carnage on our roads.

Much heavier penalties for those offences have also pushed down death rates. Barely any driver on the roads today can be unaware of the fact that if they are responsible for an accident in which someone else dies, there will be a careful forensic operation to find out exactly where the blame lies.

And if the driving is found to be of a standard to cause ‘death by dangerous driving’, the person responsible is going to jail.

While there have been cases in which the jail terms for this offence have been far too low, the sentences are getting longer.

Even so, Shane Kinney’s sentence for killing two people is too light. He has only been given four and a half years behind bars for a race in which he clopped the other racing car, causing its driver to be killed and an oncoming young man also to die.

Then he tried to cover it all up.

His guilty plea and remorse are welcome but two young people have lost their lives, and he tried to lie his way out of culpability. A longer prison term was called for.