Police are to seize the phone of every driver involved in a crash and will check to see if they were using the phone in the moments before the collision.
The advice to check phones after every smash was issued by Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, who is responsible for road policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Up until now, officers have only asked motorists to hand over their mobile if someone has been killed or seriously injured.
The new, tougher rules – part of efforts to reduce the number of people making or taking calls at the wheel – will likely mean that more phones are used as evidence in prosecutions
The move has been welcomed by road safety charities and lobby groups, many of whom don’t believe that the issue has been dealt with as severely as other road traffic offences such as drink driving.
Professor Stephen Glaister, of the RAC Foundation, said that systematic checks of phones would send a clear message that police took the matter seriously.
But some have concerns about the authorities insisting on checking the phone after even the most minor collisions.
Hugh Bladon, of the Alliance of British Drivers, said: “I am 100 per cent against anyone texting while driving, and those caught deserve everything they get.
“But I’m worried police could overdo it, just because someone is involved in a minor shunt, surely it shouldn’t mean they should lose their phone.”
The announcement comes just a few weeks after news that the Government was considering doubling the number of penalty points that people would receive for using the phone while driving from three to six. If the idea is introduced then it would mean that a person caught twice would be banned from the road.