Are you breaking the law?

Research shows that 90% of UK drivers think they are above average drivers (Dunning-Kruger effect)

Those of us who drive would like to think that we are all safe drivers, however have there been any time when you have been driving and you have done one of the following or thought about ;  using a hand-held phone or other equipment, reading, or looking at a map, talking to and looking at a passenger, lighting a cigarette, changing a CD or mp3, tuning the radio or driving under  influence of prescription drugs;

If you have and it has caused you to be take your eye of the road then will have been deemed to have committed a dangerous act. The most obvious example as  that can come into people’s minds when thinking about dangerous driving are the more ones such as racing, going too fast, or driving aggressively; ignoring traffic lights, road signs or warnings from passengers; overtaking dangerously; driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

Fortunately, most road traffic collisions don’t involve death but sadly the true fact of the matter is that every day on our road, pedestrians, cyclists and innocent drivers are killed because of the careless actions of another driver.

Government figures show that for the year ending March 2016:

  • there were 1,780 road deaths, unchanged from the year ending March 2015
  • 24,610 people were killed or seriously injured
  • there were 187,050 casualties of all severities
  • motor traffic levels rose by 1.8% over the same period

Between January and March 2016: 430 people were killed, a 13% increase from 380 people in January to March 2015

This is a worrying trend given that year upon year the figures have been coming down.

What could have caused this increase? it is thought that the use of handheld mobile phone could be part of the story. Although, using a handheld mobile phone while driving is illegal; it has been since 2003. From 1 March 2017 the penalties for holding and using your phone while driving increased. It’s now 6 points and £200 fine .

It is not illegal to use hands free, but any time a driver’s attention is not on the road can be dangerous. Your case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.


The Magistrates Court deals with the offender. 

  • The police and the court deal with those who commit serious driving offences, recent years have seen an increase in sentencing powers but many campaign groups believe that the sentencing should be on a par with manslaughter or murder where the penalty is up to life-imprisonment.
  • Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs the
    Penalty is 1 to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both; and disqualified for a minimum of two years;
  • Causing death by careless, or inconsiderate, driving the penalty is up to 5 years in prison, and disqualified for a minimum of one year.


The County Court and Insurance companies deal with the bereaved families.

What financial help is there for bereaved families ?

The current bereavement award is £12,980 in England and Wales, this is made following the death of a person involved in an accident or illness due to the fault, in whole, or in part, by another. The groups of people who can claim are restricted to the wife or husband [or civil partner] or to a parent for the loss of their son or daughter as long as they are under the age of 18 and unmarried.

The bereavement award is an amount of compensation simply to serve as a recognition of grief and a financial token of public recognition that the death was wrongful

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 those who live together but are not married are not entitled to damages for bereavement or parents of children over the age of 18years, and many campaigners are calling for an extension of those entitled to receive the award. In addition, campaign groups believe level of the awards ought to be increased in line with the amounts awarded across the border in Scotland, where the award is considered on a case by case basis, in a recent case a child was awarded £100,000.

In addition a claim can be made for funeral expenses, with the average funeral costing up to  £4,000, this is often an essential claim which bereaved families have to consider making  immediately.

Thankfully, under the Fatal Accident Act there is help to for those who were financially or otherwise dependent on the deceased, this could include; parents, children and partners, whether married or not, and it is the claim for dependency that makes up the bulk of an  award for compensation; in many cases awards are in the thousands. The money can never replace a loved one, but can help families rebuild their lives and plan for the future .


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