Brake is calling on the government to redefine criminal driving and to introduce tougher charges and penalties for motorists who kill, as part of its new road safety campaign.

The ‘Roads to Justice’ initiative aims to change current legislation so that those convicted of death by dangerous driving suffer consequences reflecting the amount of grief caused to victims’ families. The campaign also aims to highlight the need for the government to invest in specialist support services for families as they come to terms with the loss of a loved one.

Sentences currently given to those guilty of death by dangerous or careless driving range from 26 weeks to 14 years. Almost half of those convicted are not jailed at all.

To launch the campaign, Brake conducted a survey which found that 66 percent of respondents support the call for motorists who kill to be imprisoned for a minimum of 10 years, while 84 percent think drivers who kill when breaking laws should be charged with dangerous and not careless driving.

The survey also revealed that 91 percent of people agreed drivers who cause death while under the influence of alcohol and drugs should be charged with manslaughter, which can lead to a life sentence.

Samantha Hemsley, national head of the serious injury team at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Giving motorists lenient sentences after killing someone through dangerous driving is an insult to the families who have to deal with the loss of a loved one.

“Sadly, the number of road deaths increased in 2014, which suggests that the current road safety strategy is not doing enough to deter motorists from flouting the law and putting the public at risk.

“Introducing a more severe punishment for dangerous drivers who are responsible for a death when they are behind a wheel will not only mean more justice for the families of victims, but it could also help to reduce the amount of fatal road traffic accidents to begin with.”