Should we be banning drivers for minor offences?

No one would argue that truly dangerous drivers should not be banned from the roads, but bans are also dished out for accumulated smaller offences. Could these convicted drivers be made to do good instead?

There are several driving offences that carry an automatic ban if the driver is convicted. This is a sensible sentence, as it aims to remove dangerous drivers from our roads.

But what about the many drivers who end up banned through the ‘totting up’ system, whereby if they end up with 12 points on their licence they face a driving ban? These drivers have received penalty points for driving offences, often speeding. The fact they have repeatedly reoffended and not learned from the experience suggests another approach would make more sense.

Options

Among the various options that have been mooted and tried are driver education courses, and fitting cars with monitoring devices – like the automotive equivalent of an electronic ASBO tag.

However, there is one option that has not been explored which could offer some banned drivers a chance of good driving education while also serving the community. The idea is to allow some banned drivers back behind the wheel under strictly supervised conditions so that they can carry out a community service.

[Related story: Young men most likely to be banned]

While a driver may have their licence taken away due to a ban, the ability to operate and drive a vehicle remains with that individual, So, instead of letting them walk or use the bus, bicycle, train or taxis, the idea is to make use of their driving ability to benefit others who might not have access to a vehicle or be able to drive.

Crime and punishment

If a banned driver could reduce the length of their driving ban by carrying out community service combined with driver education, it could benefit all involved. The driver would have to pass a driving test before being allowed on the road, which is something they would have to do anyway at the end of the ban period.

When this type of driver goes out on the road, they would be under strict supervision and all of their driving time would be part of a re-education course to make them aware of the dangers of speeding and other driving offences.

After passing a driving test and initially proving their ability to drive safely, they could be used to help the elderly or disabled getting to and from home, shops and appointments. These probation drivers could also help with services such as meals on wheels, or deliver documents for services such as hospitals.

All of this would be conducted with a qualified driving instructor in the car, helping to generate business and income for them.

Of course, this idea would not be suitable for all offences. Instances of drink- or drug-driving should mean the driver serving the entire ban and then sitting a driving test. However, for some drivers there could be other ways of redeeming themselves by giving back to their communities, while learning to be better drivers at the same time.