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News digest: Thousands of drivers still distracted at the wheel

A round-up of this week’s news from the world of fleet and motoring

Thousands of drivers caught twice for using a handheld phone at the wheel

More than 6,000 motorists have been caught more than once for being distracted behind the wheel, according to new figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

While the number of repeat offenders remains low – the figure represents less than 0.1% of the total number of 48.2 million driving licence holders in the UK – recent RAC data that revealed 23% of drivers used a handheld phone to make calls when driving. In addition, 40% admit to using a phone when stationary at lights or in queues.

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.”

Roadwork charging scheme to continue

A government scheme to charge utility companies for roads has been so successful it will continue, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced.

The two-Lane Rental scheme, which has been carried out in Kent and parts of London since 2015, charges utility companies up to £2,500 to carry out roadworks at the busiest times of the day.

The idea encourages firms to switch to quieter roads and to avoid peak times. Businesses are also encouraged to collaborate on works to avoid the same stretch of road to be dug up twice. In London, utility companies have worked together more than 600 times since the scheme began, up from just 100 beforehand.

It was due to end in March 2019, but Kent and Transport for London (TfL) have extended the scheme following its successful trial.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is considering rolling out the Lane Rental scheme to other areas in England following a consultation earlier this year.

In England, 2.5 million roadworks are carried out each year costing the economy £4 billion, said the DfT.

Two-thirds of drivers ‘speed for the thrill of it’

More than half of drivers speed for the thrill of it, new research has found.

The survey of 3,014 drivers aged between 18 – 50 from around the UK, found that 66.7% of people speed because they “like the thrill of driving fast”, with 64.3% admitting they are most likely to speed on a motorway.

The research by also found 58.3% of drivers speed as they running late for work.

More than two million drivers were prosecuted for speeding last year, marking a six-year high despite new speeding penalties being introduced in April 2017 that means the worst offenders can now be fined 150% of their weekly salary.

The minimum ‘Band A’ fine is three penalty points and 50% of a driver’s weekly income.

The online private number plate company also found speeding didn’t save much time. When travelling in a 30mph zone, the average 14-mile commute would take 28 minutes. If a driver exceeded the speed limit by 10mph, they would save just seven minutes.


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