GEM Motoring Assist Criticises Lenient Sentence Given to Killer Short-Sighted Driver
Road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist has spoken out to condemn what it sees as the excessively lenient sentence given to 23-year-old law student Mohammed Rashid, who ran over and killed a journalist at a pedestrian crossing in North London.
Rashid was reported to be so short-sighted he could only identify a car number plate from a distance of seven feet. He was not wearing his glasses when he ploughed into 32-year-old Laurence Gunn in March 2010.
He was sentenced to 140 hours unpaid work and banned from driving for a year after admitting causing death by careless driving at Blackfriars Crown Court last week.
GEM chief executive David Williams MBE commented: “It beggars belief to read the comment of Judge Aiden Marron, who stated that Rashid ‘had not broken the law’ by not wearing glasses.
“Rule 92 of the Highway Code (from Section 922 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act) states that you MUST be able to read a vehicle number plate, in good daylight, from a distance of 20 metres. If you need to wear glasses (or contact lenses) to do this, you MUST wear them at all times while driving.
“At least 90% of the information we use in driving comes through seeing, so good vision is essential for road safety. If you can’t see properly, you cannot drive safely. Clear, comfortable vision will allow you to respond and react to road signs and other road users more quickly and accurately” said David.
GEM Motoring Assist has been campaigning for many years to get the driving and vision laws revised. GEM has regularly called for a compulsory professional eye test for all drivers applying for their first licence and for this test to be repeated at 10 yearly intervals to coincide with the renewal of photographs on licences. GEM considers that to rely on the ‘number plate test’, which is conducted by a driving examiner on the day of the Driving Test, as a suitable vision check for drivers is totally inadequate.
“The time has come for everyone to take responsibility for their vision by having regular eye tests and, if required, by always wearing glasses or contact lenses when driving. Those who, like Rashid, fail to do this and kill someone as a result should without exception receive a custodial sentence” concluded David Williams.