By Ruth Mckee
Reckless and dangerous drivers could face tougher punishments than ever before with jail terms of up to five years, the justice secretary announced today.
The new legislation will give judges the power to inflict much tougher sentences on people convicted of causing death or serious injury through dangerous driving - who currently only face a maximum of two years in prison for their offences.
"Making our roads safer is a priority - five people died on our roads each day last year, so we need to do everything we can to further improve safety,” Ken Clarke said of the new legislation.
The changes to the law, which will create a new criminal offence of 'causing serious injury by dangerous driving', come after years of lobbying from road safety campaigners and victims groups, who argued the short prison sentences for dangerous drivers were an insult to victims.
"This new offence finally means that serious injury is recognised within the title of the offence, and this recognition is vitally important to victims and their families," Brake's senior campaigns officer Ellen Booth said.
"It also means that dangerous drivers who inflict serious injuries can expect to see higher sentences to better reflect the terrible trauma and injuries they have caused."
Head of road safety at the AA, Andrew Howard, also welcomed the changes, saying:
"These law changes should make sentences more proportionate to the devastation dangerous driving causes and should also deter people from driving badly."