Killer Lorry Driver On Phone Case Prompts Call For New Penalties
Overview of the fatal collision that encouraged a call for drivers to be banned from using a phone – even hands-free.
Tomasz Kroker case reviewed
The Government should introduce new penalties for motorists that use a mobile following the imprisonment of a lorry driver that killed 4 people on the A34 in Berkshire, Brake said. The safety charity confirmed that Tomasz Kroker, 30, from Hampshire, was scrolling through music when he struck the stationary car at 50mph.
Tracy Houghton, 45, and her sons Ethan, 13, and Joshua, 11, perished. Their car was stationary due to traffic. Ms Houghton's partner's daughter, Aimee Goldsmith, 11, died too. Aimee's father and brother witnessed the collision from a nearby car. The lorry had cameras which recorded the impact and its driver using a phone.
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Safety charity proposals
Brake has a range of proposals to penalise motorists that use phones behind the wheel. These are:
- longer prison sentences for those that kill;
- increased penalties for using a hand-held mobile;
- ban on hands-free calls;
- more investment in traffic policing to catch offenders.
Mr Kroker also seriously injured several other people in nearby vehicles, Reading Crown Court heard. Adam Pearson, 44, from Milton Keynes sustained a broken back and collapsed lung when his Mazda flipped onto its roof. 2 people in a Citroen van were injured, too.
Kroker claimed initially that his brakes failed and he was listening to the radio, rather than scrolling through a phone. The Court heard, in contrast, that he barely looked ahead for nearly a kilometre prior to the impact. He later admitted 4 counts of causing death by dangerous driving and 1 of causing serious injury.
Judge Maura McGowan – while sentencing the defendant to 10 years imprisonment – stated: he "might as well have had his eyes closed".
This was no “accident”, charity argued
Gary Rae, Campaigns Director for Brake, claimed: "There could be no more shocking example of why using a mobile phone behind the wheel is so dangerous. This was no ‘accident’, but 4 lives violently ended by a criminal driver who wasn't looking at the road.”
“A 10-year sentence - of which he will probably serve just 5 - doesn’t begin to do justice to the grieving families”, he claimed.
Mr Rae continued: “We need action from the Government now - prison sentences for criminal drivers who kill must be strengthened. We need increased penalties for illegal phone use behind the wheel and hands-free calls must also be banned.”
“We also need more investment in road traffic policing, so drivers breaking mobile phone laws know they will be caught and punished”, he concluded.