Road Safety News

BBC publishes data highlighting extent of ‘driver distraction’ issue

Friday 4th November 2016

In the last four years, almost 10,000 drivers were caught twice for being distracted while driving, new figures obtained by the BBC have shown.

The data, obtained via a FOI request to the DVLA by BBC Radio 5 Live, covers the period 2012-15 and also shows that more than 600 people were caught three times and one driver five times.

A total of 42,950 motorists received a ‘CU80’ endorsement in 2015, a year-on-year reduction of 37%. CU80 endorsements cover a range of offences relating to control of a vehicle, including being distracted by a mobile phone.

The DVLA figures also reveal that although 238,694 people were caught driving while distracted at least once in the four year period, just 284 received a ban as a result.

The figures were published by the BBC just days after the sentencing of a lorry driver who killed a mum and three children when he crashed as a result of looking at his mobile phone. In the wake of the trial, the RAC and Brake both called for more to be done to deter drivers from using a mobile while driving.

The RAC described the latest DVLA figures as ‘shocking’.

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “These shocking figures reveal the scale of the task in hand to reverse the relaxed attitudes of persistent offenders and to change driver behaviours.

“It will be interesting to see what impact the new increased penalties will have but with a significantly reduced presence of dedicated roads policing officers some will doubt they will bring about the behavioural change we need

“We need a concerted effort by the Government, the police and the courts using a combination of tougher penalties, targeted enforcement and a hard-hitting education campaign to tackle what has become a desperate problem for society."




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One only has to stand and wait at any traffic lights or roundabout or any place that vehicles have to slow, stop and queue to realise just how many drivers are using not only mobiles but other devices.

It's easy enough to check if a call was incoming or outgoing by the retained memory on such a device. I have seen many a driver stopped in traffic and also appearing to be parked up at the side of the road with the engine running and on their devices. Is it an offence to be using one whilst in control of a vehicle if so even just parked up on a road and with the engine running can one still commit the offence.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Further to my comment on this subject (but in another news item) about these offences being hard to spot by police officers unless very close-up, Dave's paranoia has reminded me that the zoom lens on the in-van cameras (up to 1000m) are very good at being able to detect 'phone use from a long distance, giving time for the vehicle to be stopped or if not possible, at least for gathering evidence. Every cloud...
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Gosh, now to justify my remarks, apologies in advance for digressing heavily from the topic in hand but I guess I brought this upon myself.

The first reason, bound to cause some level of disagreement on this site, is that I believe that the contemporary concept of speed limits are - I would reckon on a large majority of UK roads - not fit for use. A high quality rural road has so many quickly changing variables, which makes it insane, in my eyes, for a fixed limit to be in place for a lengthy distance. One can face enforcement action for safely (and justly) exceeding a proscribed limit, yet one rarely faces enforcement action for unsafely/unnecessarily impeding the flow of traffic.

The second reason is that I'm a kind of paranoid person, and I don't particularly like people looking into my personal life (or car) with a camera with quite a zoom function on it!

(hope that explains my initial reaction!)

Of course, there has to be compromises, of which I'm happy to not use a hand-held phone whilst driving, and I'm also happy to wear a seatbelt whilst a car is moving - I'll tolerate being recorded for the purposes of checking attentiveness, I guess - at the end of the day, I want to remain alive.

And to re-iterate my warning about S59 - it's completely subjective.
David Weston, Corby

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

I feel that I must respond to the last statement. What makes you so concerned and distressed about traffic speed vans? Surely if you are obeying the law of the road and not exceeding the speed limit you would have nothing to fear from the presence of a police officer watching you? However you should feel reassured that they are present and doing their job helping to maintain law and order, prosecuting offenders and deterring others from speeding. Something that will make all our journeys safer in the long run.

Sect 59 can be used in many ways. If it has the desired effect then I for one will not criticise it as I see all to well others who would flout the law knowingly and selfishly and abuse it to the possible detriment of other road users. That goes for every possible offence that may be committed and not only the use of mobile phones or other such hand held or fixed devices.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

I take your S59 argument and raise two of my opinions:

- Safety camera vans cause myself and others great distress. Does this mean that the operator of the van is being anti-social and thus the van should be seized?

- A couple of years ago my cousin was stopped for "using her phone", despite her phone being in a bag, and the other occupants of the vehicle protesting that she wasn't on the phone. Thankfully she was found not guilty at court, but, at the time of the 'pull, would this "phone usage" be seen as anti-social driving, and to follow would you seize her vehicle?

S59 is a dangerous instrument, one that should be revoked.
David Weston, Corby

Agree (3) | Disagree (4)

So alarm, distress and annoyance are not sufficient reason to implement Sect 59 for the use of a mobile phone. I am definitely annoyed when I see someone fragrantly disobeying the law and placing others, including myself at greater risk. I think and a lot of others would think that is sufficient reason to automatically require confiscation of a motor vehicle and justly so. No matter that it wasn't implemented or legislated for that specific purpose.
Bob Craven Lancs

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The legislation does exist, but it wasn't designed to deal with phone use. I feel that using it in the struggle against distracted driving is stretching it rather too thinly.

In order that the law is not brought into disrepute, what we need is a dedicated power to seize the vehicle for phone use, just like no insurance and no driving licence offences.
David, Suffolk

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

The legislation is there and it was designed for anti social behaviour by vehicle users where an offence under law was possibly committed and it allows a constable or PSO to seize a motor vehicle whose driver appears to be in contravention of Sect 3 and 34 of the RTA or circumstances that is causing or is likely to cause, alarm, distress or annoyance to other members of the public. This is S59 The Reform police Act 2002. Confiscation may be the way forward. They do it all the time in Australia and it is an accepted practise. It will make them think twice.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (10) | Disagree (7)

Until Rod's comment, I must admit I'd missed the irony of the BBC becoming so concerned about road safety through driver distraction, when at the same time think it's okay for their reporters to talk to the camera whilst driving.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (2)

Following Bob's train of thought, currently, one can potentially have one's car seized following two observed anti-social driving incidents (within twelve months I think), so perhaps the authorities might like to encourage the police to take a wider interpretation of 'anti-social' driving to include anything that might be to the detriment of other road users e.g. speeding, tailgating, 'phone use etc.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

I suspect that not a day goes by without the BBC interviewing someone who is driving on the public roads. I fail to see how thrusting a camera in someone's face and asking them to report or comment is not distraction.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (2)

Quite simply if there is no fear of getting caught or reported for the offence and if that unforeseen occurrence happens its only a minimal fine that can easily be paid by card with no inconvenience. Add the knowledge that they don't take your driving licence of you for a mere 12 points then there is no deterrent.

Hows about instant disqualification like they do in other countries? Suffer so many points on your licence and the police take your car away and you walk. Then they may take notice. They are breaking the law that is designed not to make them criminals, but for their own safety and others safety. If they flout that law they should be penalised in some way. We are too lenient in this country.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (14) | Disagree (6)