July 12 2012.

At four years, the average sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 62% less than for manslaughter, according to the IAM.

The IAM says the average sentence length for manslaughter is 6.6 years, while those sentenced to prison for causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving are given an average sentence of 1.3 years. However, causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs has an average sentence of 4.35 years.

53% of those convicted of causing death or bodily harm through driving offences were sentenced to immediate custody (260 people) in 2011. But this has dropped from the 83% sentenced to immediate custody in 2001.

Fines for drink driving are also lower in real terms than they were 10 years ago. In 2001 the average fine for drink driving was £203, while in 2011 it was £240 fine - equivalent to just £178 in 2001 prices - a 12.3% decrease.

The average fine for careless driving is £138, 27% less in real terms than it was in 2001. Dangerous driving is the only area with tougher fines, with the average fine of £518 being 30% more in real terms than in 2001.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: "We recently discovered that the number of prosecutions for motoring offences has fallen. Now it is clear that drivers are also receiving short sentences for some of the most serious driving offences.

"Magistrates are handing out fines for drink driving that are less than 5% of the maximum amount possible; giving the message that drink driving only warrants a slap on the wrist. Only sentences that reflect the seriousness of the crime will act as a proper deterrent."

For more information contact the IAM on 020 8996 9777.