Thousands caught multiple times for driving distracted

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Thousands of motorists have been caught at least twice for driving while distracted, including using a handheld mobile phone, according to figures from the DVLA.

In response to a freedom of information request by the Press Association, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency revealed that more than 6,000 motorists have at least two endorsements on their licence for driving while distracted.

Over 400 drivers were caught three times, while 20 were caught four times and three were caught five times.

The data relates to the number of 'CU80' endorsements held on driving records. They are handed out to drivers found not in full control of their vehicle, such as when using a phone illegally. The endorsements, which come with three to six penalty points, are erased after four years.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said that responsible motorists would be shocked to discover the number of drivers persistently using a handheld device behind the wheel.

"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," he said.

Repeat offenders often believe there is little chance of seeing a traffic police officer -- let alone being caught by one -- for using their handheld phone at the wheel, Williams added.

The number of roads police officers in England and Wales has declined by 27% in the past decade.

Josh Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said there was an urgent need to tackle "the menace of distracted driving".

He said: "Six thousand repeat offenders in the past four years is truly staggering and makes a mockery of the points system. The laws clearly need tightening alongside stricter enforcement."

RAC research in 2017 revealed that 23% of drivers admit to using a handheld phone when driving and 40% said they did so when in stationary traffic.

The motoring organisation's BePhoneSmart.UK campaign -- https://bephonesmart.uk/ -- aims to help motorists ignore the distraction of their mobile phone.

Williams concluded: "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."

Do you think we need tougher penalties to stop drivers using their phones?

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