A proposal to hold motorists responsible for deaths caused by careless driving has been blocked as breaching a common law principle. The proposed amendments to the Road Traffic Ordinance seek to introduce a new offence of 'careless driving causing death'. A first offender would be liable to a maximum $10,000 fine and 12 months' jail, with possible suspension of licence for at least six months. Under existing law, a driver found guilty of careless driving is liable to a maximum $4,000 fine and six months' jail. There is no provision for disqualification. Deputy Commissioner for Transport Dorothy Chan Yuen Tak-fai said yesterday the court's failure to consider deaths caused by careless driving had led to conviction with low penalties. The average fine for careless driving over the past three years was only $1,200, Mrs Chan told the Legco transport panel. But Edward Ho Sing-tin of the Liberal Party said the amendment was against the common law principle that a person ought not be held accountable for carelessness. He was supported by the Legco legal adviser. 'The consequence of careless driving should not be relevant,' Mr Ho said. Acting police chief superintendent Eric Crowter argued it was a matter of attitude towards human life. Motor Transport Workers General Union chairman Li Wing-sang said the amendment put extra pressure on drivers. Au-yeung Kan, of the United Friendship Taxi Owners and Drivers Association, added: 'Drivers will not intentionally knock down pedestrians. It is unfair for a driver to be held responsible if someone is killed in an accident.' Mrs Chan promised to get back to the panel after a review. She said there were plans to table the bill to Legco in April.