Commissioner welcomes Government plan to review road traffic law following tragic hit and run incidents
Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, has welcomed a positive parliamentary debate around the sentencing of those involved in fatal road collisions.
The debate was sparked by two e-petitions, one of which followed the death of 31-year-old Ryan Saltern who was killed in 2019 at St Teath in Cornwall.
Wayne Shilling, 39, of St Teath, was driving home from a carnival in St Teath in July 2019 when he hit Mr Saltern, who was lying on the road and later died.
Shilling was given a four-month suspended sentence, disqualified from driving for 12 months, given an evening curfew for four months and ordered to pay a £207 victim surcharge and prosecution costs.
Police were only told of his involvement 36 hours after the crash by a member of Shilling’s family.
A petition started by Ryan’s family, which received more than 167,000 signatures, called for a wider definition of death by dangerous driving to include “failure to stop, call 999 and render aid on scene until further help arrives”.
Currently hit-and-run drivers face a maximum sentence of six months where there is no other evidence of careless or dangerous driving. Mr Saltern's family are calling for a minimum 10-year sentence with a maximum life sentence, a so-called Ryan's Law.
Transport minister Andrew Stephenson told the debate in parliament yesterday: "We agree there may be something wrong with the law as it stands."
He added: “As the next step, the Department is considering conducting a call for evidence on parts of the Road Traffic Act. Although details are still being worked on, I expect this will include failures to stop and report as an offence.”
Commissioner Hernandez, who is the national APCC lead for road safety, commissioned a road safety survey last year which was completed by more than 66,000 people – 81% of whom believed road offences required more enforcement.
She said: “The debate in parliament yesterday was a really important one and it was great to see so much positive support for both petitions.
“We know the public want to see tougher enforcement taken against road offences, but more than this – we need to save lives that are being needlessly lost.
“I hope the Government gives this subject some really careful consideration and can help create a strong legacy for Ryan and his family.
“Every life lost to a road traffic collision is both devastating and avoidable, that’s why in Devon and Cornwall we have launched the Vision Zero South West Road Safety partnership which aims to halve all serious collisions by 2030 and eradicate them completely by 2040. It’s an ambitious target but one we need to have at the forefront of our minds.
“We can only do this by working together and, during Brake Road Safety Week, I’d like to pay tribute to all the heroes who make safety on our roads their mission.
“Whether it’s our hardworking emergency services, council road safety teams or the communities who work tirelessly through schemes like Community Speed Watch - they all play a vital role in keeping people safe on our roads.”