Surely you can’t go to prison for that?

Some road traffic offences can result in a prison sentence. Many would be perceived by most as serious: drink and drug driving; or causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving.

Did you know that less serious driving offences such as careless driving can also result in incarceration?

A very common road traffic accident, such as running into the back of the car in front, could also amount to careless driving. However, provided details are exchanged, that sort of accident would normally attract very little, if any police attention.

If, however, you are involved in an accident which was your fault and one of the occupants, perhaps because they are fragile, dies as a result (even if it was a relatively minor cause of the resulting death) you will face a police investigation which could result in a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

The wrongdoing for both offences i.e. the failure to appreciate the car in front had stopped - causing you to collide with that car - are exactly the same.

You may be facing prison, not just an insurance claim

In one case however, nothing happens other than an insurance claim, in the other you get investigated and probably charged with causing death with careless driving and face up to 5 years in prison. This type of offence is consequence based and not based on the level of wrongdoing, which is identical.

Many of us will inadvertently drive carelessly. Perhaps eating a sandwich or getting distracted by a hands-free phone call. The next time you are driving a little too close to the car in front whilst doing this, remember that if you have an accident and someone dies, you may be facing prison, not just an insurance claim!

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