Judge calls for speed limiters and passenger restrictions for all new drivers

Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 10:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 10:07 am

A judge has called for restrictions to be placed on all newly qualified drivers as he sentenced two teenagers to prison for their part in a fatal crash.

Judge Niclas Parry said he wanted to see a one passenger limit applied to new drivers and a requirement to fit speed-restricting devices to their vehicles for 12 months after passing their test.

The judge’s comments came as he sentenced 18-year-old Thomas Quick and another 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to five years each in prison for causing death by dangerous driving in “one of the worst examples of dangerous driving” he could imagine.

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Mold Crown Court heard that the two drivers repeatedly raced on roads around Ruthin, north Wales, before the crash which killed 17-year-old Olivia Alkir on June 27, 2019.

Head-on collision

Ms Alkir was one of three young passengers in the Ford Fiesta being driven by the 17-year-old. She died when the car smashed head-on into a Mercedes on the B5105.

The two other passengers and the driver and passenger of the Mercedes all suffered serious injuries as a result of the crash.

The court heard that the younger driver had reached speeds of up to 90mph before the crash and friends watching the two teenagers’ behaviour described their driving as “ridiculous”.

The 17-year-old had only passed his driving test the day before and the court was told a black box device to monitor his driving was due to be fitted the following day.

17-year-old Olivia Alkir died in the crash (Photo: North Wales Police)

Handing down the sentences, Judge Parry said: “On 27 June last year, the life of one family was shattered beyond repair, the lives of four other people were, to varying degrees, changed for forever

"You two were the cause of those dreadful consequences and that was purely due to your arrogance, selfishness and egotistical conduct.”

He said he would be writing to the Government about the facts of the case “inviting [ministers] to consider the same when consideration continues to be given to legislation that newly qualified drivers should be limited to carrying one passenger only for a period of 12 months following having passed their test and also requiring no newly qualified driver should be permitted to drive on any public road until a speed restricting device has been applied to their vehicle”.

No thrill is worth this pain

In a victim impact statement, Olivia’s mother said her family woke “to a living hell every day”.

She said: “Olivia’s death and the life changing injuries inflicted on the other victims were a tragedy that should never have happened.

“This was not a random accident. This was a calamity caused by the reckless and criminal actions of two young men who played Russian roulette with the lives of their passengers and other road users.

“No thrill is worth this amount of pain. Therefore this needs to be a lesson for all of us as a community, for all parents, guardians and relatives of young drivers to educate them about the consequences of dangerous driving, and to properly understand the responsibility they have for innocent lives when driving.”

Restricting drivers is not the answer

Despite the judge’s call, there have been warnings that placing restrictions on new drivers could put people off driving, restricting their mobility and opportunities.

Ian McIntosh of RED Driving School believes that more education is needed rather restrictions.

He commented: “Whilst the crash in question no doubt led to a tragic and avoidable death, restricting young drivers is not the answer. Of course, we have our concerns over the safety record of young drivers but we do not believe that restricting passenger numbers for young drivers is the best option for the UK.

“Restricting driving licences may deter youngsters from learning to drive. This would impact social mobility, employment prospects and hamper local economies. It will also affect support networks built around friends and families – particularly in rural areas where public transport options are limited.

“An overarching reason for dangerous driving among young people remains their attitude, and this problem can’t be tackled by simply restricting independence on the road. Young drivers adopt a responsible mindset only when they are taught to respect the dangers of the road. The government should prioritise these kinds of initiatives, as it did when educating people about the risks of smoking. Changing attitudes is the only long-term option for increasing road safety.”