The heartbroken sister of a man killed in a hit-and-run is urgently calling for change after the speeding driver was technically allowed to ‘carry on driving for a year’ after the tragedy.
Lucy Harrison, a coordinator at Road Peace West Midlands, insists driving licences should be revoked from the moment a motorist is arrested on suspicion of causing a serious or fatal injury collision.
Her older sibling, Peter Price, was ploughed down and left for dead just yards from his flat in the middle of Hagley Road.
Killer driver Omar Tariq, who had been travelling at 93mph before the crash, sped off from the scene, only stopping to swap seats with his girlfriend.
But until the point of pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving – a year on – he was allowed to keep his licence and had the freedom to travel on the roads as normal, Lucy says.
And Tariq served just two years and three months – of a four and a half year sentence – in jail before he was freed last year.
Lucy has since been fighting for justice alongside dozens of other families with the same tragic experience through her role at Road Peace West Midlands, a charity to support road crash victims.
In lockdown, she teamed up with Jane Evans – a widow who lost her husband in a crash 20 years ago – to launch an anthology to collate the stories of dozens of grieving victims and plead for long-overdue change.
They hope the book, ‘Heartbreak, Hope and a Call for Change’, will help the next family forced to go through such a tragedy and push for the key changes they all want to see.
The key changes:
- Everyone to use the terminology of ‘crash or collision’, not accident
- Removal of law allowing 24 hours for driver to report a serious or fatal crash to emergency services
- Interim driving bans after a serious injury or fatal collision
- Failing to remain at the scene of a serious injury or fatal collision to become a separate charge
Speaking at the launch last Friday (Sept 10), Lucy said: “You can kill somebody, be under suspicion and waiting for charges – and carry on driving.
“With my brother, that was death by dangerous driving and he [Tariq] drove for over a year until he was in court and put his guilty plea in and then, at that point, the judge imposed interim disqualification until the sentencing.”
Tariq was initially sentenced to three years and four months in jail and banned from driving for five years, but the punishment was ruled as unduly lenient by a Court of Appeal.
His term was increased to four and a half years, but he served just two years and three months for Peter’s death before he was freed.
She continued: “We don’t dispute the human rights at Road Peace, they are important but we don’t think driving is a human right, we think it’s a licenced privilege so we don’t understand why that can’t be revoked.
“We think if you’re arrested on suspicion of an offence, that carries a mandatory ban, the DVLA or DfT ought to bring in licencing conditions that says until your court case we are suspending your licence.”
After her brother’s death, Lucy found people would repeatedly refer to the crash as an ‘accident’ – another big, but simple change she is pushing for.
“The big thing for me is the crash, not accident,” she said.
“It’s such a simple one, but we all feel that people will refer to ‘I’m sorry about the accident that killed your brother’ – it wasn’t an accident.
“So many people use it and we’re always saying: ‘I’m really sorry do you mind not saying accident?’ So if we could get everyone to use crash or collision it might change the culture.”
Stay abreast with the very latest from the region with our Black Country Email Updates.
“At the moment the charge is fail to stop, that carries a maximum six month sentence, it applies whether somebody has actually just knocked a wing mirror and driven off or whether someone’s killed someone.
“It’s a ridiculous charge. Where someone’s driven off and it’s death by dangerous, the fact they’ve driven off is treated as an aggravating factor, rather than an additional offence, so we’d like to see a new charge which is failing to remain at the scene of a serious injury or fatal crash.
She added: “At the moment the law allows up to 24 hours to report a crash as well.
“It’s crazy, we think there should be a duty to report to the emergency services immediately and to hand yourselves into the police.
“Why are we allowing people that potentially killed and seriously injured someone to go and take 24 hours, it’s mad.”
A copy of the anthology – Heartbreak, hope and a call for change – can be ordered here, with people urged to make a small donation to the charity.
If you have been affected by this article, you can seek support from Road Peace West Midlands via the website.
Need Your Help Today. Your $1 can change life.