Motorists caught using a mobile phone at the wheel could face a new £90 fine as well as three points on their licence, under new plans put forward by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
The fine will apply to anyone caught texting or calling on a handheld mobile device. Drivers displaying anti-social behaviour, such as tailgating, cutting other drivers up or hogging the middle lane would be subject to the same penalty.
There are also proposals to penalise drivers who eat food or light cigarettes while at the wheel.
The proposals come as the Government attempts to crack down on dangerous driving. The current drink-drive limit will also be lowered, alongside the introduction of new drug-driving laws.
Mr McLoughlin said: "We want to send a clear message to dangerous drivers: if you continue to show complete disregard for the safety of other road users, we will catch you – and we will punish you."
This is despite the transport secretary previously admitting to making phone calls while driving – something he has said he wouldn’t do now.
The government has been under increasing pressure from campaigners to increase phone-driving penalties after studies showed that texting can be more distracting than being under the influence of alcohol.
Prof Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "With both texting and handheld use of mobile phones at the wheel causing more impairment than being at the drink-drive limit or under the influence of cannabis, the police need to target the large number of motorists continuing to flout the law."
There have been suggestions that an increase in the fixed penalty is not enough to convince drivers to put down their mobiles, with over 150,000 still prosecuted for the offence every year.
IAM director of policy Neil Greig said: "An increase in fixed penalty levels is needed to maintain the deterrent effect. But the fear of getting caught is the key to changing driver behaviour and high profile policing must be a top priority.
“Any income from new fines should be put back into road safety to counter recent spending cuts."
What do you think is the most dangerous driving behaviour exhibited by UK motorists? Should using a phone while driving be penalised more heavily? Have your say below.