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UK agency offers Calcutta help to curb road deaths

London, Sept. 3: Britain is showing India how to tackle dangerous driving by sending two motorists who killed three people while racing their high performance cars “like mad men” to prison for seven years.

When they come out, they will be banned for driving for six years.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa), which today offered via The Telegraph to help Calcutta and other Indian cities reduce their high death tolls, also drew attention to the case of a coach driver who is being made responsible for the death of three of his passengers following a crash – he now faces three charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

Duncan Vernon, Rospa’s road safety manager for England, said his organisation was a charity with limited resources but it would be willing, if invited, to offer its considerable expertise in reducing death on British roads — this has come down from a peak of over 10,000 in the 1960s to the current level of 3,000 plus — to Calcutta.

He made the fundamental point that reducing casualties on the road depended ultimately on “the values of society”.

His colleague, Jo Stagg, spokeswoman for Rospa, said that “enforcement” was one aspect of policies adopted by the government to cut road deaths.

The case she referred to was that of two men who did not know each other but who became involved in a race when one out-accelerated the other at traffic lights.

Adrian Kuti, 42, in his Porsche Cayenne, and Richard Cherry, 31, in his Toyota Celica, weaved through traffic, overtaking and tailgating at speeds of up to 100mph until Kuti smashed into a Proton car on the A217 near Banstead in Surrey.

Joan Harp, 78, and her passengers Joan Clover and Kathleen Deards, both 83, died on the spot. Elsie Galagher, 88, survived but will never fully recover from her injuries.

The Porsche’s onboard computer showed that it was travelling at 80mph at the moment of impact, double the speed limit for the road. Two of the Proton’s occupants were propelled 40 yards through the air by the force of the collision.

Judge Neil Stewart said that Kuti and Cayenne — they were found guilty of three counts of causing death by dangerous driving – were equally responsible for the consequences of their actions.

In addition to their seven year prison sentences, they were both were disqualified from driving for six years.

The judge told them: “To bring to an abrupt end the lives of three blameless ladies is something that no sentence of the court can balance. This was an exceptionally bad example of causing death by dangerous driving. There was greatly excessive speed maintained over a considerable distance. It was not only aggressive driving but arrogant driving.”

Kuti certainly had form — he was jailed for five years in 1992 for a road rage attack where he sprayed ammonia in the face of another driver after an argument at traffic lights.

Compared with India, Britain has relatively few problems with bus drivers who receive rigorous training. But an example is being made of Philip Rooney, 48, a coach driver of Lanarkshire, Scotland, who faces three counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

He was driving the London-to-Aberdeen National Express coach when it overturned on the M4/M25 slip road near Heathrow airport on January 3. Christina Toner, 76, from Dundee, Scotland, and 30-year-old Yi Di Lin, a Chinese national, died in the crash. John Carruthers, 78, of Chertsey, Surrey, died six months later in hospital on July 1.

Rooney faces prison if found guilty.

In an effort it to make it harder to get a driving licence, which is possible at 17, learner drivers will have to answer more questions correctly to pass the theory section of the driving test from today.

Candidates will be set 50 questions and will have to get 43 of them correct to pass.

Until today, learners faced only 35 questions and had to get 30 right.

When the change was announced last month, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) said the increase in the number of multiple-choice questions in the test would help broaden candidates’ knowledge and lead to higher standards.

Jill Lewis, DSA’s head of lifelong learning, said: “It is important that candidates prepare thoroughly for their theory tests in the same way they would any other exam. Increasing the number of questions means that the test ensures comprehensive coverage of the whole syllabus.”

According to Rospa, the key to reducing road casualties is to improve “driver attitude.”

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