58 Essex drivers caught distracted at wheel more than once

Essex had the fourth highest number of drivers caught multiple times distracted at the wheel over the past four years, figures reveal.

A freedom of information request to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) revealed 58 drivers in Essex were given CU80 endorsements on their licences over the period.

CU80 endorsements are given to people who are caught not in control of their vehicles, such as by using a mobile phone while driving.

But a partnership organisation between police and local councils says rates are not necessarily higher in Essex than elsewhere, drivers are just more likely to get caught.

Only Greater London, West Yorkshire and West Midlands ranked higher than Essex in terms of the number of drivers caught more than once.

This comes after a separate Freedom of Information request by the Press Association revealed 932 British drivers were convicted for the offence more than once over the same time period, with one driver being caught nine times.

The Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP), a partnership between local councils and the police, says rates are high in the county because of effective roads policing.

SERP chair Nicola Foster told the LDRS: “The prevalence of recorded road traffic offences is a reflection of Policing levels and is not a reliable measure of the underlying compliance with the law.

“If we had no roads policing then we wouldn’t be able to record any traffic offences, making it appear everyone in Essex is a perfect driver.

“The high prevalence in Essex is indicative of the investment made in roads Policing in the county, making Essex one of the places that you are most likely to get caught for road traffic offences.

“Essex has more traffic than any other local highway authority area in the country. Including Southend and Thurrock, which are also covered by Essex Police, DfT figures show 8.9 billion vehicle miles driven in Essex in 2020.

“More traffic means more offences for Essex Police to detect.”

On its website, SERP says its purpose is to reduce death and serious injury on Essex roads to zero by 2040.

Responding to Panorama’s recent segment “Britain’s Killer Roads”, SERP said it operated 140 static safety camera systems in Essex.

Essex Police prosecuted 57,000 drivers for speeding in 2021 and Essex County Council delivered over 630,032 educational courses to offenders, the response continued.

In the last four years, 138 people in Greater London, 64 people in West Yorkshire and 59 people in the West Midlands were given CU80 endorsements more than once, according to the DVLA’s response to the freedom of information request.

38 counties, including Cardiff, Oxfordshire and East Sussex, had less than five people given the endorsements more than once over the same period.

According to PA’s FOI request, 90,057 drivers nationwide were caught once.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter