New figures from the DVLA reveal that more than 6,000 motorists have at least two endorsements on their licence for driving while distracted, including using a handheld mobile phone.
The DVLA data comes in the wake of RAC research in 2017 which revealed that 23% of drivers admit to using a handheld phone when driving and 40% said they did when in stationary traffic.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Responsible motorists and road users will be shocked to hear the number of persistent handheld mobile phone drivers who are prepared to disregard a first endorsement and continue to put their own lives and those of other road users at risk.
“The threat of a second endorsement and the possibility that they will lose their licence clearly is not enough to deter this hard core of drivers who are either oblivious to, or wantonly disregard, the danger it poses often believing there is little chance of seeing a traffic police officer, let alone be caught by one for using their handheld phone at the wheel.”
With an average of 43.5k CU80 endorsements issued each year, this represents less than 0.1% of the total number of 48.2 million driving licence holders in Great Britain and yet, as the RAC Report on Motoring data shows, 23% of drivers admit to using a handheld phone to make calls when driving and 40% admit to doing so when stationary at lights or in queues.
Williams said: “Clearly, enforcement is falling far short when it comes to tackling the handheld mobile phone menace and the number of CU80 endorsements shows that the massively under-funded police forces are only scratching the surface of the problem.”
The number of roads police officers in England and Wales has declined by 27% over the past ten years and there is now fewer than 4,000 officers to police more than 200,000 miles of roads – that’s just one officer for every 50 miles. Six in ten (61%) drivers say there are simply not enough roads policing officers to enforce motoring laws effectively.
The RAC launched the Be Phone Smart campaign to help motorists quit their illegal handheld mobile phone addiction. Drivers can find tips and advice on breaking the habit and make a personal pledge to stop and share it with friends and family.
Williams concluded: “The message is to be phone smart and if you only make one resolution for 2018 then make it the year that you put your handheld mobile phone down for good when driving – before you regret it.”