Vehicles used in a dangerous or negligent fashion need to be considered deadly weapons under the law, a police advocate says.
The statement comes after the state government proposed increased penalties for dangerous and negligent driving.
On Sunday, Police Minister Rene Hidding announced the government had drafted legislation to increase penalties for people convicted of dangerous or negligent driving.
Under the draft bill, those charged with dangerous driving would have to front the Supreme Court instead of the Magistrates Court, with dangerous driving offences being moved from the Traffic Act to the Criminal Code Act.
The maximum penalty for a dangerous driving conviction would be increased to 21 years. Harsher penalties for negligent driving would also be introduced.
Offenders who cause death by negligent driving would face a maximum penalty of two years’ jail instead of one, while those found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm by negligent driving would face one year instead of six months.
The draft legislation comes in the wake of the June hit-and-run death of Vanessa Hayward in New Town.
The Hodgman government also passed legislation earlier this year to introduce tougher police evasion laws, responding, in part, to the death of Hobart mother Sarah Paino in 2016, who was killed by a teenage boy who was evading police in a stolen vehicle.
Police Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen said when vehicles were used in a dangerous or negligent fashion it was akin to wielding a knife.
He believed sentencing for dangerous and negligent driving would get “harder” if the proposed changes were to take effect.
”This shows the community it’s [a] serious [offence],” Mr Allen said.
“If we save one or two lives, it’s all worth it.”
The parents of Natalia Pearn, who was killed on the Midland Highway in 2013 as a result of another person’s negligent driving, wrote to Premier Will Hodgman, Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin and Labor justice spokeswoman Lara Giddings in February 2016, following Ms Paino’s death.
Kris and Alan Pearn called on the letter’s recipients to take dangerous and negligent driving more “seriously”.
“Change will give us a little more peace,” they wrote.
The Pearns said that while nothing would bring their daughter back, changes to the law would offer some comfort.
“Victims’ families need to have faith that, when the perpetrator goes to court, the sentence will be appropriate and reflect the seriousness of the injury or death caused and not leave them feeling let down,” they wrote.