Tuesday 16 November 2010

The tragic case of Amy Houston

The Daily Mail appears to be trying its hardest to become a parody of itself. But occasionally it runs a story that highlights the tragedy of our car culture  - even if it is unintentional. Such as story is here.

To summarise, a driver,  Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, ran over and killed a 12 year old child and then fled the scene. He was driving with no license or insurance and whilst serving a nine month ban for these offences.

He was convicted for the offence and served 4 months in prison for driving whilst disqualified and failing to stop.

The Daily Mail concentrates on the driver's immigration status (he is an Iraqi refugee) but that isn't the point - the crime is not connected with the decision to grant him residency. The reason he killed a child is because he was driving when banned, something that is widespread in the UK. And why not when the chances of getting caught are so low, and even when caught the punishment is derisory. What is the point of banning someone from driving when they are already driving without a license? Where is the deterrent in that?

The driver got four months, yet reflect on the litany of motoring offences leading up to the death of the child. Fleeing the scene of an accident where someone is seriously hurt should carry a bigger prison sentence than 4 months in itself. I know of friends knocked off cycles by cars which fail to stop. Why? Because the chances of getting caught even with the car details appears to be low, and the punishment even if convicted is pathetic. Running away from someone who may be injured due to your actions is just despicable and should be punished accordingly, not least to encourage motorists to contact the emergency services as soon as possible to give the victim the best chance of recovery.

The irony that the Daily Mail is running a story like this is probably lost on them. They are one of the most rabid papers in trying to quash any move to make motorists more accountable (usually under the laughable guise of fighting against the "war on the motorist"). Well, this type of injustice is the result of influential papers fighting to maintain the status-quo. And this is happening all over the UK by motorists who have no fear of the consequences of their actions, regardless of their background and nationality. Freewheeler's blog highlighted the appalling statistics around the numbers of uninsured drivers in the UK, based upon this report  which indicates that there are 1.7 million uninsured drivers in the UK, 13% of all cars in London. Incredibly in an area of Bradford 50% of all vehicles are uninsured. And why not? When you can avoid the inconvenience of getting insurance, or even a license, by flouting the law with little consequence.

This case is a tragedy. My sympathies lie with the family. How can someone break the law in so many ways which then results in the death of a child end up being punished with just 4 months in prison?


  1. Perhaps instituting a penalty where driving without a license results in the forfeiture of the car and subsequent recycling into bicycles instead of jail or prison would work better as a deterrent. After all the miscreant would still have to pay the thing off or subrogation to the insurance if driving someone else's car, much better because there would be a gain for Gov't with no costly jail time to be served.

  2. Areas with 50% non-insured vehicles is just incredible, even thinking that over 1 in 10 vehicles in London have no insurance is scary.

    What is needed is for a systematic and regular crackdown using ANPR cameras. And for the fines to rack up very quickly leading to seizing of the car for repeat offenders and ultimately jail.

    If the police took these 13% of vehicles and drivers off the road in London and make them cycle instead, the modal share would rocket!