On one level, the new offence of causing death by driving whilst uninsured, unlicensed or disqualified, or all three, is a welcome addition to the criminal law and will address a real injustice which has existed for far too long.
But again, besides being too little too late, it approaches the problem from the wrong direction. You can’t bring back the dead, and the sadness and the grief over a needless death can hardly be assuaged by a term of imprisonment for the perpetrator, assuming, of course, that a place can be found in our chronically overcrowded prisons.
It is an all too depressing and familiar scenario. A car, often a rust bucket of dubious provenance, is sold at auction or through the local press, at a price even an unemployed youth can afford, and off he drives into the sunset. All the seller wants is his few quid and he’s happy.
The rules regarding the sale and purchase of cars is honoured more in the breach than the observance. Registration documents are often incomplete or out of date, if they exist at all. So I propose as follows:
- As a first step, it must be made unlawful to sell a car if it’s not registered to the seller.
- Both the seller and the purchaser must complete the changes required of them at the time of sale, notifying the DVLA of the change of ownership. The purchaser must produce verifiable details of his current address.
- It should be unlawful to sell a car that does not have at least 4 weeks extant on its MOT certificate.
- It should be unlawful to sell a car, and allow the purchaser to drive away, if the purchaser cannot produce a valid certificate of insurance, even if it’s a cover note for four weeks.
- It should be unlawful for the seller to allow the purchaser to drive off without producing a current driving licence.
- And finally, the police must be more proactive. If they stop a car being driven by an uninsured or disqualified or unlicensed driver, besides their existing powers to prosecute, they must be given the power to confiscate and crush it. This will achieve two purposes: to deprive the offender of the means of illegal transport, and to remove from the road dangerous and unroadworthy vehicles.
These measures, if rigorously implemented, will go some of the way to reducing death on the roads, and make them safer for all of us.