Residents in Bradford who have lost love ones in a road traffic accident may soon get some respite, after Bradford South MP Judith Cummins got answers in the House of Commons.

The Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has launched a sentencing White Paper that will increase the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life.

The move forms part of major sentencing, specifically, the measures around driving include plans to increase the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life. The new measures will also increase the maximum penalty, for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life. While also adding laws for drivers who could be charged for causing serious injury by careless driving.

The move cannot come soon enough for some Bradford residents who spoke to the Asian Standard about the dangerous driving in Bradford.

Nabil Hussain a warehouse worker in Bradford said: “There are too many bad drivers in fast cars. The younger drivers treat the roads like racing/dirt tracks. That’s why there are a lot of death in the city on the roads. I am not sure what more the authorities can do, other than maybe an increased police presence. That might be a deterrent.”

Sabreah Patel who recently moved to Bradford from India with her family said: “The roads in Bradford are not safe. The people drive rashly. I have faced that problem so many times. I don’t know why people are in a rush, why are they driving so fast when there are speed limits.”

Samreen Akhtar a barrister in West Yorkshire said: “I’ve experienced the roads in London and Birmingham, so I wouldn’t say the roads feel less safer than those cities. As a barrister I have noticed, how busy the traffic courts are, there is a prevalence of the dangerous driving type offences.

Judith Cummins questioning the leader of the house on the White paper

Speaking to the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, about the announcement by the Justice Secretary Judith Cummins MP said, “I welcome the Sentencing White Paper that the Justice Secretary introduced, as it restates the Government’s commitment to increase the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving to life imprisonment.

“But it is now nearly three years since the Government first announced this change. Families waiting for justice have waited long enough.

“So can the Leader of the House tell us exactly when this legislation will be introduced, to give beavered families the justice they deserve?”

Jacob Rees-Mogg thanks Bradford South MP Judith Cummins for campaigning on road safety

Although it has been recognised by the government there is no fixed date for the Bill to come into force with Jacob Rees-Mogg MP responding: “I thank Judith Cummins for the campaigning she’s done on this very important issue and her success in developing policy in this area because I think it is her influence, her questioning, that has helped the government come to its policy decision.

“As regards to the precise timing of the Bill, I can’t give an absolute answer as to the day it will take place but the White Paper sets out a serious government priority which will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows and the Bill has itself been written. That is the not too distant future, so I hope that answer is at least encouraging.”

Speaking after the session in the House of Commons Judith Cummins MP said: “This announcement that these changes will be introduced soon is very good news. Bereaved families who have campaigned for this change have waited far too long. I will do everything I can to ensure the Government keeps its word and enacts tougher sentences without delay.”

Road safety campaigners, Brake, have long advocated for an overhaul of UK road law to deliver justice for victims and to help keep roads free from dangerous drivers.

Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake said: “Crash victims have waited three long years for this announcement. Road crime is real crime and it is high time that the Government, and the law, recognised this.

“Years of Government inaction have added to the suffering of road victims who have not been delivered the justice they, and their loved ones, deserve. The Government must now implement these tougher sentences as first priority, delivering on their overdue promise to road crash victims, and then urgently initiate a review of the flawed legal framework for road justice.

“Driving is a privilege not a right and yet our flawed legal system continues to allow convicted dangerous drivers on the roads where they can endanger others. We all want safer roads, but we will only achieve this if the law treats road crime with the seriousness it deserves.”

Government statistics have revealed that 76 people were killed or seriously injured on Great Britain’s roads every day in 2019. The Department for Transport provisional figures for 2019 show that 1,748 people were killed on the roads last year, meanwhile 25,975 people were also seriously injured on the roads.

Dangerous driving has a wider impact on the whole community with drivers in Bradford hurt in the pocket, due to the risks of dangerous driving in the city. The district ranks inside the top 10 for the highest premiums across the UK. The average insurance premium in Bradford according to the Confused.com price index is £1,178 per year. On average that is over £350 more than other parts of the UK.

For many younger drivers, the cost of insurance hinders their chances of affording a car. With the rising unemployment for 16-24 years due to the pandemic. The chances of younger drivers being able to afford a car are widening. The average cost for an 18-year-old in Bradford tops two thousand pounds sitting at £2,134. Meanwhile 21-year-olds have an average cost of £1,525.

West Yorkshire Police are on the frontline dealing with dangerous and reckless drivers across Bradford and have worked across the city to tackle the issue. In 2016 they launched Operation Steerside and have seized over 1,000 vehicles for dangerous driving in that time.

Police carry out checks across Bradford for dangerous drivers

Chief Superintendent Alisa Newman, of Bradford District Police, said with the public’s help they can go further: “Road safety is a top priority in the Bradford District and we are continuously looking at ways to prevent death and serious injuries on our road network. We treat all instances of dangerous and anti-social driving extremely seriously. Drivers can put their lives and the lives of others at risk with this type of driving.

We are aware of community concerns around the standard of driving in the Bradford District and as a result, Operation Steerside was launched to specifically tackle this issue.

“Since its launch in 2016, Operation Steerside evolved in 2018 into a multi-agency partnership in Bradford. This was to develop Operation Steerside from a purely-police led enforcement operation to a partnership initiative, so all agencies could work collaboratively to continue with enforcement, but also look at changing behaviours including working with young people in schools and youth settings.

“To date, Operation Steerside has seized over 1,000 vehicles for dangerous, anti-social or illegal vehicle use, undertaken 179 multi-agency operations, and issued 2,785 fixed penalty notices, 543 Section 59 warnings issued and 178 arrests.

“This shows the commitment of the team and the partnership across Bradford to listening and reacting to community concerns and we are dedicated to doing more to build on the significant progress in tackling this issue across the Bradford District.

“In the past month, West Yorkshire Police has launched a new system where the force will receive dashcam footage and other forms of digital media from members of the public of where a suspected offence relating to road safety has taken place.

“The potential offences that the new system will look at includes dangerous driving, driver distraction including using a mobile phone, driving without due care and attention, careless driving, overtaking on solid white lines, not being in proper control of the vehicle as well as traffic light contraventions.”