Death by dangerous driving

A young man has been imprisoned for seven years for causing death by dangerous driving and it appears the sentences may become more severe.Clearly cars are extremely dangerous devices especially if used foolishly. A few things always strike me, however, when such crimes are sentenced. Firstly there is the feeling that this is simply manslaughter. Some of the legal experts may explain why it is prosecuted differently but it seems to be essentially similar; the criminal (when found guilty he is assuredly that) did not intend to kill anyone but due to recklessness he did kill a number of people.

The next thing I must admit to is the feeling to an extent the “there but for the Grace of God go I.” I am a painfully law abiding driver but my elderly car is, I am sure, capable of speeds not dissimilar to those involved in the accident I mentioned above. As such if I was driving foolishly or in a desperate hurry might I cause a similar accident and receive a similar penalty? I am no philosopher but the concept of moral luck is interesting and here is an example specifically relating to Road Traffic Accidents.

The final thing I tend to think of (though I have been reassured regarding this of late) is: would I: a middle class, middle aged man have been treated differently? Would my wife a middle class, middle aged woman have been treated differently again? I say I have been reassured because relatively recently a middle aged school headmaster in Wales was gaoled for seriously injuring another man in a high speed accident. Interestingly though both of the drivers I mentioned were driving “sporty” typed cars: did this count against them before the judge? Was this seen as indicative of their driving style?

One thing that strikes me about both these events (not that I have studied them in great detail) is that neither driver seemed able to wholly accept the blame for the accident. I do not know if that partly resulted in the relatively severe sentence in this case.

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