Ministers announced that drivers will shortly encounter £200 fines and six points on their licence if they so much as touch their phone while at the wheel.
Tougher laws taking effect early next year will make phone use while driving prohibited in almost all cases.
Touching the screen to scroll a music playlist, browse the internet, take a picture or play a mobile game will all be covered by a ban early next year.
The rigorous rules will also apply when stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic.
The only significant difference is that motorists will still be able to use their phone as a sat nav as long as it’s secured in a holder and hands-free calls. Mobile payments at drive-through restaurants or on toll roads will also be allowed.
But drivers performing one of these actions could still be prosecuted if the police find them not in proper control of their vehicle.
The changes strengthen existing laws that prohibit texting or calling while driving.
The move was first announced last year but then stalled. Ministers have now stated that it will now happen early next year, with the Highway Code also being updated.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes would make it easier to prosecute motorists who disregard the rules, and he said that too many deaths and injuries happen whilst mobile phones are being held.
He said that by making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, they’re ensuring the law is drawn into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.
And he said that while our roads continue to be the safest in the world, they will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through their award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms amongst high-risk motorists.
The Daily Mail’s End The Mobile Madness campaign has called for tougher punishments for motorists who carelessly put the lives of others at risk by using their phones.
Plans for a blanket ban on using mobiles while driving were first mooted two years ago, but following a public consultation, it discovered that 81 per cent of people were in favour, but the law has been fine-tuned to include a small number of exceptions.
The Highway Code will explain the new rules and make it clear that using a phone even in stationary traffic is forbidden.
Sadly, there will be some pretty vexed drivers sitting in a 5-mile queue for four hours that just want to ring home. This is just criminal.
Not so long ago I was saying that it was difficult to get out of bed in the morning without violating one law or another, and there doesn’t seem to be any common sense anymore, and there’s a huge distinction between sitting in traffic using your phone to when your driving and texting, and there are already laws in place to deal with hazardous driving and driving without due care.
However, the ergonomics of car control systems are now equally beguiling with tiny and hard to find fiddly little buttons. Remember the days when heater controls were nice and simple to find, with round dials or big slidders? Piloting an Airbus and driving a car are becoming indistinguishable now and so very distracting.
Infotainment systems are extremely distracting and they’re way over complicated and can cause numerous accidents and yet they’re legal, and it’s stupid that on many, to just put the heater up requires changing several screens. Basic functions should be by switches and buttons.