Fines and points for drivers using mobile phones will double next year; anyone caught texting will get six points on their licence and will also have to pay a £200 fine.
A newly-qualified driver could be forced to re-take their driving test if they are spotted using a handheld phone.
Experienced drivers could end up in court for breaching the rules twice, meaning they could be slapped with fines of up to £1,000 and could get a six-month driving ban.
The RAC recently reported that illegal use of phones while driving has reached "epidemic proportions", with 11 million drivers saying they have made or received a call while driving in the last year.
The automotive services company said:
Attitudes towards handheld mobile use have become worryingly relaxed over the last two years.
And it is not just attitudes that are shifting – actual behaviours are changing significantly too with the percentage of drivers who admit to having used a handheld mobile phone while driving having shot up.
The percentage of people who think it is fine to answer a phone call has doubled from seven per cent in 2014 to 14 per cent this year, the RAC said. The proportion of people who admit to having used a mobile while driving has jumped to 31 per cent compared to just eight per cent two years ago.