I have no desire to be a Law and Order zealot. Garth McVicar I am not. However, the number of constituents who have contacted me recently about our approach to those that cause injury or death on the road has got me thinking.
There is a good reason I’ve been seeing a lot of these cases – there has been a number of totally avoidable deaths on Manawatu roads recently, several involving cyclists.
The thrust of the complaints I’ve received is that we are too lenient on those who cause lethal accidents on the road. It’s an understandable response from people who have lost loved ones.
The gut reaction is, of course, to lock people away longer and to punish them harder. I’m not sure that achieves much but I do wonder if we need to look at how long drivers might lose their license if found guilty of careless, reckless or dangerous driving causing death and what might be demanded of them before that license is returned. Same goes for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
So I have some questions:
- Is the current system too lenient?
- If it is, what is the appropriate method of punishment and rehabilitation?
- Should a driver’s license be automatically suspended when they are involved in an accident causing death pending the outcome of their trial?
There are other ways to prevent road accidents besides tougher penalties and while that is not the focus of this post, feel free to share your thoughts on those too.