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Driver caught distracted behind wheel nine times in four years

UK drivers are banned from texting and making phone calls under law and harsher rules will come into force next year

Furvah Shah
Monday 03 January 2022 16:02 GMT
Some 932 British motorists were convicted of being distracted behind the wheel repeatedly.
Some 932 British motorists were convicted of being distracted behind the wheel repeatedly. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A driver was caught distracted behind the wheel nine times in the last four years, an investigation has found.

The unidentified person was one of 932 British drivers convicted of the offence more than once in the same time period, according to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) figures obtained by the PA news agency.

Some 27 drivers were caught between three and five times, 904 were caught twice and 90,057 were caught once, in statistics that have been described as “alarming” by road safety campaigners.

Drivers caught distracted at the wheel are given a CU80 driving offence - when a motorist uses a mobile or other communication device when driving - as well as three to six penalty points.

Jason Wakeford, head of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: “Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do on a daily basis, and requires full concentration to do so safely.

“It’s alarming to see repeat offenders, who have had ample opportunity to change their behaviour, still on the roads and putting other people at risk.

“We believe that drivers who regularly disregard the law should have their licences revoked. This would help save lives, prevent needless injuries, and send a clear signal that driving is a privilege and not a right.”

RAC road safety spokesperson, Simon Williams, said: “Using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel is illegal and dangerous and, like drink-driving, ruins lives.

“Sadly, these figures demonstrate that far too many drivers are still breaking the law and putting others on the road needlessly at risk.

“Worryingly, the RAC’s research shows that a quarter of drivers are still making or receiving calls with a handheld phone while driving, and incredibly a small but sizeable proportion even admit to filming videos or playing games at the wheel.”

Most drivers who acquire 12 or more points on their licence are disqualified for at least six months.

But, it is up to a court whether to make such decisions, which can be influenced by if the motorist can prove extenuating circumstances or if a ban would cause significant financial hardship.

The DVLA said just 506 of the 90,989 motorists with CU80s were disqualified because of it, but it is not clear whether the man with nine CU80s was among those banned from driving.

Statistics from the Department for Transport say 17 people were killed and 114 were seriously injured in crashes on Britain’s roads in 2020 involving a driver using a mobile phone, with more than one in six being pedestrians or a cyclists.

Mr Boardman, a policy adviser at governing body British Cycling, said: “Using a phone while driving is not a mistake, it is a choice, and one that is resulting in needless death and life-changing injury.

“If people feel it’s okay to text or phone while driving then surely it’s time to start taking these selfish, dangerous drivers off the road permanently.”

Under current laws in the UK, drivers are banned from texting and making phone calls with handheld devices, other than in an emergency and stricter rules prohibiting people from taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists or playing games on their phones when driving will be introduced next year.

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