Drivers may lose their licence if caught using their phones at the wheel, the transport secretary announced under a new tougher measures that came into force on 1 March.
Penalties and fines for using phones while driving doubled from three points to six points and from £100 to £200.
Motorists could also be disqualified from driving if they get 12 points within three years.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Doubling penalties will act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone while driving and will also mean repeat offenders could find themselves banned from our roads if they are caught twice.”
“Our message is simple and clear: do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving. It may seem innocent, but holding and using your phone at the wheel risks serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users,” he added.
Road safety campaigners such as The London Road Safety Council have welcomed the new measures.
Mark Bunting, the council’s spokesperson said: “The London Road Safety Council welcomes the strengthening of penalties for handheld mobile phone use.”
“We feel that this is a valuable first step in reversing the culture of acceptance that seems to be growing around this issue, we need to get the message out loud and clear that using a handheld device while driving is not acceptable.”
Police have increased road patrols across the country to crack down the offenders. About 3,600 drivers were handed penalties in January during a nationwide campaign to clamp down the mobile use habit.
Iain Temperton, Director of Communications for Road Safety GB said: “A penalty is only as effective as the enforcement regime, therefore we encourage Constabularies to fully resource Roads Policing teams to detect this and other offences.”
“Drivers who choose to do this are not only putting themselves at risk but are endangering the safety of those around them, particularly vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.”
Using a handheld mobile phone while driving has been illegal since 2003 but the Department for Transport has been exploring ways to increase penalties.
A consultation that followed on the proposed measures last year received almost unanimous support.
While respecting the importance of the matter, some drivers think the penalties are harsh and may put people out of work.
Abdihakim Omar, a middle-aged Uber driver said: “The new penalties are harsh especially for new drivers but I think it is important to appreciate that the matter is about life and death and we have to respect the law for our own benefit.”