Drivers who kill others due to dangerous driving could be given life sentences under new legislation due to be introduced next year.
The change to the law will see motorists who kill while speeding, racing or using a handheld phone facing a life term for the first time. It will also see those who cause death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs face a lifetime jail sentence.
At the moment the maximum sentence for both offences is 14 years but the Government pledged in 2017 to change the law to impose tougher penalties on the worst offenders.
The new legislation will also create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. Currently, drivers who cause injuries under such circumstances can only be convicted of careless driving, which carries a maximum penalty of a fine.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: "This government has been clear that punishments must fit the crime, but too often families tell us this isn't the case with killer drivers.
"So, today I am announcing that we will bring forward legislation early next year to introduce life sentences for dangerous drivers who kill on our roads, and ensure they feel the full force of the law."
The changes to the law will apply in England and Wales but not Northern Ireland, which has its own road laws.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake said the change should be a first step in reforming Britain’s “flawed” legal framework.
He commented: “Crash victims have waited three long years for this announcement. Road crime is real crime and it is high time that the Government, and the law, recognised this.
“Years of government inaction have added to the suffering of road victims who have not been delivered the justice they, and their loved ones, deserve. The Government must now implement these tougher sentences as first priority, delivering on their overdue promise to road crash victims, and then urgently initiate a review of the flawed legal framework for road justice.
“Driving is a privilege not a right and yet our flawed legal system continues to allow convicted dangerous drivers on the roads where they can endanger others. We all want safer roads but we will only achieve this if the law treats road crime with the seriousness it deserves.”