The penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving have increased across England, Scotland and Wales to six points on your licence and a £200 fine – and truck drivers could be suspended from driving if caught breaking the new rules.

From March 1, motorists caught using their mobile twice or accruing 12 points on their licence will face magistrates’ court, being disqualified and fines of up to £1000.

And motorists who have had their licences for less than two years will be banned if they use their mobile phone at the wheel just once – and penalties for all drivers caught using their handset while driving have doubled.

The issue was brought into sharp focus last November when truck driver Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years when he killed a family of four in a crash caused by searching for music on his smartphone.

“Our message is simple and clear: do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving,” said transport secretary, Chris Grayling. “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.

“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.

“Everyone has a part to play in encouraging their family and friends not to use their phones while driving – it is as inexcusable as drink driving.”