Tough new penalties for using mobile phones behind the wheel mean new drivers caught flouting the law will lose their licence. 

The new measures - now in force across England, Wales and Scotland – mean drivers caught using a phone will get six points on their licence and a £200 fine. 

Those caught within two years of passing their test risk losing their licence, while those who have been driving for longer could face disqualification or fines of up to £1,000 if they are caught using their phone twice, or accrue 12 points. 

The new measures, which came into force on 1 March, are being accompanied by a week-long coordinated crackdown by police forces, who will carry out extra patrols to catch drivers on hand-held devices. Around 3,600 drivers were caught using their phones during the last coordinated police crackdown between 23 and 29 January this year, according to the Department for Transport. 

To coincide with the new measures, an advertising campaign has been launched by road safety group THINK! and the AA Charitable Trust, to help drive home the message that mobile phones and driving don’t mix. It will appear on billboards and at cinemas, as well as on radio and social media. 

The introduction of these new measures follow several high-profile road accidents involving distracted drivers, including that of lorry driver Tomasz Kroker, who was jailed for 10 years for killing a mother and three children after using his phone behind the wheel. 

In 2015, 22 people were reportedly killed and 99 seriously injured in the UK following accidents where a motorist using a phone was a contributory factor. 

Last week, BBC Wales’ reported Welsh Government figures suggest the number of young people killed or seriously injured on Wales’ roads has risen by 15 per cent to 284 since 2012. 

“Every year lives are lost or turned upside down because of distracted drivers,” said David Robinson, a senior serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors. “Several high profile cases in recent years have highlighted the devastating consequences of using a phone when behind the wheel and we have supported tens of thousands of families whose lives have been changed forever by road traffic accidents

“Doubling the penalties for this crime sends a serious message to drivers and will no doubt be welcomed by most. But there is still more that needs to be done to break the reckless habit of phone use behind the wheel, including far tougher jail sentences for those who cause serious injury or death. Effective and repeated promotion of the new law is key to ensuring that driving behind the wheel while using a mobile phone becomes as unacceptable as drink driving.”