All of us were shocked at saddened to hear of the motorway accident in which the Statham family, two parents and four children, were crushed to death in their car. A large truck which had ignored warning signs drove into their rear. The driver was sentenced to three years in jail for “careless driving.”
I don’t want to comment on the particular case, but I think that the connection between an offence and its actual results should stimulate some thought.
We all deplore careless driving but I daresay that any of us who have driven for a long time (my licence dates from 1953) will admit that on some occasions, distracted perhaps by adjusting volume on the radio or trying to interpret a signpost, have been guilty of it. But in the great majority of cases our momentary lapse has done no harm. Yet by ill fortune it might have done, For example we might have clipped an elderly cyclist who was manoeuvring around a pothole and who as a result has a fatal heart attack. Causing death by careless driving carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Now my question is this. Should the penalty be related to the actual fault or to the inadvertent results? We know that, in the case I have cited and several others, there is an outburst of emotional fury by the relatives of the victim if they believe the sentence to be too light. Understandable of course: people are not given to thinking clearly when emotion rules. But should such strong feelings be the arbiter of justice?
Should not the culpability of the offence rather than the incidental results be the criterion for punishment? How will God judge us? (By the way, if any of you reading this should have a momentary lapse of attention at the wheel, and end up in jail, don’t forget to let me know how I can get Second Sight News to you by email.)