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COPFS

Careless/Dangerous Driving Prosecutions (26/7/2016) (R013538)

Thank you for your e-mail of 29 June 2016 in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):

“I would like to make a freedom of information request on the following information/statistics over the last 10 years


1a           How many drivers are recorded as having blacked out at the wheel of their car which resulted in a fatality?

b             How many of those drivers were prosecuted?

c              How many of those recorded went on to a fatal accident enquiry?



2a           How many drivers were prosecuted for death by dangerous driving that had the special defence of automatism?

b             How many drivers were prosecuted for death by careless driving and had the special defence of automatism?

c              Confirmation of the number of drivers convicted of death by dangerous driving

d             Confirmation of the number of drivers convicted of death by careless driving

e             Confirmation of the number of drivers acquitted of charges


3a           How many drivers were prosecuted with death by dangerous driving for failing to stop at a red light?

b             How many drivers were prosecuted with death by careless driving for failing to stop at a red light?

c              How many in 3a were convicted of death by dangerous driving and how many were  convicted of the lesser offence of death by careless driving?

d             How many in 3b were convicted of death by careless driving?”



Firstly I should explain that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals Service’s case management database is a live, operating database.  It is designed to meet our business needs in processing of cases and the information is structured accordingly. We do not have a separate statistical database, and hold only operational data needed for business purposes.  

I have considered your request and will answer each section in turn:



1a           How many drivers are recorded as having blacked out at the wheel of their car which resulted in a fatality?

b             How many of those drivers were prosecuted?

c              How many of those recorded went on to a fatal accident enquiry?



While we prefer to provide information where possible we are unable to electronically search our database to identify road traffic fatalities caused by a driver blacking out at the wheel of their car.  It would require a member of COPFS staff to manually search all road traffic fatalities over the time scale of your request to identify those which are specifically relevant to your request.   Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12 and I hope you will appreciate that over the period of your request the numbers of cases involved in such a search would exceed the upper cost limit.


2a           How many drivers were prosecuted for death by dangerous driving that had the special defence of automatism?

b             How many drivers were prosecuted for death by careless driving and had the special defence of automatism?

c              Confirmation of the number of drivers convicted of death by dangerous driving

d             Confirmation of the number of drivers convicted of death by careless driving

e             Confirmation of the number of drivers acquitted of charges



In relation to this section of your request we have assumed from your request that the section and sub-sections involve drivers with a special defence of automatism. This is not information which is recorded electronically on our database and would require a member of COPFS staff to manually search all such cases to identify those where this special defence has been noted.  As explained above under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12 and I hope you will appreciate that over the period of your request the numbers of cases involved in such a search would exceed the upper cost limit.

If we have assumed wrongly and sub-sections c, d and e of Section 2 of your request do not specifically relate to a special defence of automatism, I would advise you to contact the Scottish Government who hold statistical information about convictions.  Information can be extracted more easily from their database as it is specifically designed to provide statistical information. It contains information about cases prosecuted in all Courts including convictions and sentencing. You can contact the Scottish Government Justice Department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 0131 244 2228.


3a           How many drivers were prosecuted with death by dangerous driving for failing to stop at a red light?

b             How many drivers were prosecuted with death by careless driving for failing to stop at a red light?

c              How many in 3a were convicted of death by dangerous driving and how many were  convicted of the lesser offence of death by careless driving?

d             How many in 3b were convicted of death by careless driving?”


As with section 2 of your request above, we have assumed that all sub-sections of this section of your request relate to failing to stop at a red light.

While we are able to provide some information in response to this section of your request I must highlight that the data is provided with the caveat that it may not be complete and therefore fully reliable. I should explain that “failing to stop at a red light” as referred to in a dangerous or careless driving charge is not a detail which is always electronically recorded on our database.  That said, we have carried out a search of our database to identify variables within those charges which do include the keywords involved of failing to stop at a red light.  I must emphasise again that this search cannot be considered as providing a complete picture as there may be cases where the keywords have not been entered on the database.  I can additionally explain that although failing to stop at a red light does feature in many charges of this type, the data we have provided in answer to your requests refers only to those cases where it is clear from the narration of the charge that the fatality was as a direct result of the driver failing to stop at a red light.

a – Four drivers were prosecuted with death by dangerous driving, the death being a direct result of failing to stop at a red light.

b – Three drivers were prosecuted with death by careless driving, the death being a direct result of failing to stop at a red light.

c – Of the cases in 3a one driver was convicted of death by dangerous driving; one driver was convicted of death by careless driving; one prosecution is ongoing; and for completeness one driver was not convicted of death by dangerous driving. d – Of the cases in 3d three drivers were convicted of death by careless driving.