Too Much Leniency for Reckless Drivers

FILE Photo from National Road Safety Committee

The drama took place on Aug. 26 around 8:30 am. A 51-year-old woman and her 19-year-old daughter were riding on their motorcycle on National Road 3 when a black Lexus 570 travelling at high speed rear-ended them.

The two women were killed instantly. Abandoning his vehicle fitted with personalized license plates, the driver fled the scene. There is no doubt he will be found, if not already. What will happen then? He will have to pay the family compensation whose amount will be negotiated under the supervision of the police. And unless the financial negotiations produce no result, the case will then be closed.       

One can understand the need for victims to obtain compensation for the losses incurred and to see this done as soon as possible. But all the same, this should not prevent any government action to punish the reckless driver if his responsibility and liability were clearly established. Road safety entails reckless drivers’ criminal liability. Social equity also demands it.     

One takes dad’s big car. One doesn’t know how to drive or drives like a madman. One injures or kills someone. No problem. Dad pays. This has happened and will happen again. 

There was a time not that long ago when sexual crimes committed against children were neglected by the justice system and more generally by society. Those who had committed those crimes could usually wriggle out of it without judicial proceedings if they could manage to reach an agreement on a financial settlement with the victims’ families.

Those criminals who had flouted the law were not really important: They were paying and the crimes were forgotten. The more so that the vast majority of the children affected were from poor families. Times have changed and this has enabled the country to no longer be seen as a risk-free hunting ground for sex offenders targeting children. This has happened due to the introduction of procedures for criminal prosecution of those who commit such crimes.

Those responsible for traffic accidents and sex offenders are of course not to be put on equal footing. But there are cases when the reckless driver clearly behaves like a criminal whose weapon is his vehicle. The justice system should determine their level of responsibility and penalize accordingly, regardless of any deal made with the victims or their families. At stake is road safety as much as the respect of the rule of law.           

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