Killer drivers could face life behind bars under new legislation, the Government has confirmed.
Motorists who cause death by speeding, street racing or while on a mobile phone are among those who may be handed the maximum punishment.
Thousands of people backed tougher penalties for the most serious road offences in a public consultation after the plans were announced in December last year – and the move has been fully backed by Huddersfield road safety charity Brake.
The Government will now push on with the measures, which will see life sentences introduced for those convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs.
A new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving is also to be created.
Between December and February, 9,000 replies were received to the public consultation.
Justice Minister Dominic Raab said: “We’ve taken a long hard look at driving sentences and we received 9,000 submissions to our consultation.
“Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families, and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs.”
He added: “We will introduce a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, punishable by imprisonment, to fill a gap in the law and reflect the seriousness of some of the injuries suffered by victims in this category of case.”
Around 90% of respondents backed the creation of the new offence and 70% thought the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving should be increased from 14 years to life imprisonment, according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
The “vast majority” also agreed the punishment for causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink and drugs should also be life in jail.
In 2016 157 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving and 32 were convicted of causing death by careless driving while under the influence, the MoJ said.
Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said the move marked a “major victory for the families of victims” and campaigners.
He said: “We applaud the Government for at last recognising that the statute books have been weighed against thousands of families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have flagrantly broken the law.”