Alarm at number of motorists still using a mobile phone whilst driving
New data has shown an alarming number of motorists have been convicted of offences relating to their use of their vehicle since 2012. Almost 10,000 drivers have been caught twice for being distracted while driving, including using a mobile phone, in the last four years. More than 600 people were caught three times and one driver five times, according to data from a BBC Radio 5 Live Freedom of Information request to the DVLA. The data refers to the number of drivers who have received CU80 (Construction and Use) endorsements in the past four years. CU80 endorsements cover a range of breaches in requirements regarding the control of a vehicle, and include being distracted by a mobile phone.
The figures show that 238,694 people have been caught driving while distracted at least once, but comparatively few, some 284, have received a ban. The most likely reason for this is that whilst a conviction for such an offence could put motorists on 12 penalty points and so at risk of a 6 month driving disqualification under the "totting up" procedure, Magistrates have accepted evidence that such a ban would cause the motorist, or others "exceptional hardship" and so have exercised discretion not to disqualify.
The data for 2012-2015 shows the total number of drivers being caught is falling: in 2014, 68,409 motorists received a CU80 endorsement, however in 2015 this fell to 42,950 drivers. The current punishment for using a mobile phone while driving is three penalty points, but in September the government announced it was considering plans to increase the penalty to six points.
The information comes as the dangers of using mobile phones while driving were highlighted in a shocking video released by Thames Valley police.
Footage from inside the cab of driver Tomasz Kroker’s lorry showed him scrolling through his mobile phone before ploughing into stationery traffic, killing four members of a family.
Tim Williamson commented: “These figures are alarming. Using a mobile phone whilst driving is incredibly dangerous because it is so distracting. We tend to agree with what has been said by some road safety charities about the figures reflecting the lack of police officers on duty but motorists have a responsibility to ensure they put their phone away when on the road. We would draw motorists' attention to the serious penalties available to the courts for these offences.”