Northern Ireland needs to get tough with drivers who use mobiles

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

A lorry driver was jailed for 10 years yesterday after killing a family of four people while scrolling through music on his mobile phone.

The sentence was handed down to Tomasz Kroker, from Hampshire, who crushed a car carrying the family in Berkshire earlier this year.

The court said he was so distracted by his phone that he “might as well have had his eyes closed”.

To be entirely preoccupied with your mobile phone while in charge of a vehicle as obviously dangerous as a lorry is an act of grievous recklessness.

In this instance, four people were killed.

But countless other drivers have got away with such recklessness, because they were not caught or had the good fortune not to cause an accident.

It is essential that society sends out a tough signal about the use of handheld mobile phones while driving.

The UK government recently announced that penalties for using mobiles in Great Britain while driving would double to six points on the licence and a £200 fine. In Northern Ireland, however, the fine is only £60.

The province has also had two recent cases in which the penalty for killing someone through dangerous driving was woefully inadequate.

This year David Lee Stewart, who had drugs in his system, was given three-and-a-half years in prison for killing Enda Dolan, 18, and driving with the teenager on his van for hundreds of yards.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is appealing the sentence for being unduly lenient.

Last week Edward Devlin, 21, from Hilltown, got a mere 13 and a half months in prison for causing death by dangerous driving.

He was surfing the internet on his mobile phone to look at used cars online when he struck a telegraph pole outside Lisburn that killed a man.

We need a much tougher approach in Northern Ireland to use of handheld phones while driving.