More than 600,000 British drivers face disqualification with “one touch of their phone”, a road safety charity has warned.
Analysis of official data obtained by IAM RoadSmart found that 547,287 drivers had six points on their licence as of August 5, and a further 94,088 had nine points.
The punishment for illegally using a mobile phone behind the wheel was toughened in 2017.
Those caught face six penalty points and a £200 fine.
Drivers who accumulate 12 or more points within three years are usually handed a six-month ban.
Varying amounts of points are handed out for motoring offences, such as three for using a vehicle with defective brakes, between three and six for speeding and 10 for drug-driving.
The number of drivers with six and nine points on their licence was 6% and 8% higher than a year earlier respectively.
The figures are based on analysis of a response to a freedom of information request to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) shared with the PA news agency.
Virtually all hand-held use of mobile phones on Britain’s roads is banned.
A loophole allowing drivers to escape punishment for hand-held phone use if they were taking a photograph or playing a game was closed by new legislation in March last year.
Department for Transport statistics show 22 people were killed and a further 148 were badly hurt in crashes on Britain’s roads in 2022 where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor.
IAM RoadSmart director of policy, campaigns and standards Nicholas Lyes said: “It is astounding that there are more half a million drivers just one touch of their phone away from a driving ban.
“Anyone with six points on their licence that is tempted to text or take a selfie on their phone is not only risking a ban but is a potential danger to themselves and other road users.
“A pinging phone can be a massive distraction, so it is best to put it out of sight, out of reach and on silent.
“Drivers with any number of points on their licence – but especially those with six or nine – should not only evaluate their driving skills but think about the risk a driving ban could have on their livelihoods.
“Thankfully, education and training courses can play a role in making people safer drivers, along with changing behaviours and attitudes.
“There is a widely held suspicion that driving standards are deteriorating.
“The worrying jump in the number of people with points on their licence should be a wake-up call to the Government to roll out new enforcement measures and publish their updated road safety strategy.”
Some cyclists frequently use footage recorded by their head cameras to report illegal mobile use to police.
Michael van Erp, who runs the CyclingMikey YouTube channel, said he has reported 1,555 drivers for motoring offences since 2019, resulting in a total of 2,161 penalty points being handed out.