Motorists who use their mobile phones at the wheel are to face much tougher penalties, the Government has announced.
Changes to current laws, set to take effect next year, will mean that drivers convicted of making calls or texting will receive six penalty points on their licence.
The fines imposed for the offence are also set to double to £200.
The announcement comes following mounting pressure from road safety campaigners and the families of those whose loved ones have been killed and injured as a result of mobile phone use in vehicles.
There had also been concerns that previous attempts to impress upon drivers the seriousness of their actions had been unsuccessful.
A survey earlier this month, carried out by the RAC, indicated that up to a third of drivers make calls or use apps while at the wheel – a greater proportion than two years ago.
The increased penalties will be accompanied by a new public awareness campaign, which ministers hope will drive the message home
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said it was his intention to make the offence as “socially unacceptable” as drink driving.
“It may seem harmless when you are replying to a text, answering a call or using an app, but the truth is your actions could kill and cause untold misery to others.”
AA president Edmund King suggested that the new laws may be needed to change attitudes, particularly among younger drivers for whom smartphones are a part of day-to-day life.
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