IN announcing the Government’s intention to introduce life sentences for killer drivers, Justice Minister Dominic Raab said the decision is based on “the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families, and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter”.

Some dissenting voices say a driver who causes a fatality while, for example, texting on a mobile phone, should not face the same penalty as someone convicted of manslaughter because the behaviour is not as serious.

But if the outcome is the same – a life lost, a grieving family – then why should the punishment not be the same if the defendant’s poor standard of driving is found to be a cause of the death?

Figures from the Department of Transport show that three in five killer drivers are jailed, but the average sentence is four years. Many times in the pages of The Northern Echo, families have questioned jail terms of about this level for the driver who killed their relative.

Of course, every case is different, and however severe the sentence handed to a driver whose lawbreaking is responsible for taking a life, it will not bring the victim back.

But families and campaigners who have been calling for tougher penalties argue a life sentence would act as a deterrent to other drivers.

And well it might. If it makes people sit up and realise the potential lethal weapon they have in their hands every time they get behind the wheel, that must be a good thing.

Too many families have paid the price for the reckless driving of others. Hopefully the words “life sentence” will have the effect of making people think of the consequences of their actions – both for other road users and themselves.