Thu 28 Dec ‘17 00.01 GMT
More than 6,000 motorists have been caught at least twice for driving while distracted, including using a mobile phone, in the past four years.
Figures released by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in response to a freedom of information request by the Press Association highlight the problem of repeat offenders. Over 400 drivers were caught three times, 20 were caught four times and three were caught five times.
Motoring groups said the figures illustrated how a perceived lack of enforcement meant some drivers ignored the rules banning handheld phone use.
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 by using a phone illegally. The endorsements are only erased after four years.
Almost 174,000 drivers have at least one CU80 endorsement but just 309 were disqualified because of it.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said responsible motorists would be shocked to discover the number of drivers persistently using a handheld device behind the wheel.
He said: “The threat of a second endorsement and the possibility that they will lose their licence is clearly not enough to deter this hardcore of drivers.”
Since 1 March, motorists caught using a handheld phone have faced receiving six points on their licence and a £200 fine – up from the previous penalty of three points and £100. Drivers can lose their licence if they receive 12 points within three years, or six points in the first two years after passing the test.
Williams said that repeat mobile phone offenders often believed there was “little chance of seeing a traffic police officer”.
The number of road police officers in England and Wales has declined by 27% in the past decade.
Josh Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, called for “the menace of distracted driving” to be urgently addressed.
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.”