Ministers have indicated that motorists who use handheld mobile phones while driving will face tougher penalties.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said he would be announcing new sanctions shorly. It follows a report last week that more drivers are admitting using mobile phones at the wheel.
Mr Grayling said: ‘We need to take responsibility for our actions and as drink or drug driving has become socially unacceptable, so must using mobile phones at the wheel.
‘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. We all have a part to play in ensuring our family and friends do not use their phones while driving. I will be announcing a tougher new penalty regime shortly.’
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it expects tougher sanctions to take effect in the first half of 2017.
Anyone calling, texting or using an app while driving will face higher on the spot fines and more points on their licence than they do currently.
Officials added that the DfT is also are developing a hard-hitting THINK! campaign to tackle the issue, ‘to make it socially unacceptable like drink driving or not wearing a seatbelt’.
The Government’s recent consultation on bringing in tougher sanctions received ‘near unanimous support for tougher penalties’, officials said.
The DfT said mobile phone use while driving was a contributory factor in 21 fatal accidents in 2014 and 22 in 2015 but official statistics show a downward trend in the number of prosecutions for mobile phone offences. This trend has previously linked to police cuts.