Drivers could face fines of up to £200 and penalty points for just touching their phone whilst behind the wall as laws on using mobiles are tightened up.
The government has announced that a legal loophole that has seen motorists escape prosecution for using their phone to film or take photos will be closed.
Earlier this year Ramsey Barreto successfully appealed against a conviction for filming the scene of a crash while driving after his lawyers argued current rules only relate to using a phone for “interactive communication”.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has now said it will revise the legislation so any driver caught using a hand-held phone behind the wheel - whether they are texting, taking photos, or scrolling through a playlist - will face prosecution.
Motorists caught using a hand-held mobile currently face incurring six points on their licence and a £200 fine, but the loophole has meant some can escape prosecution.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said an urgent review will be carried out, with proposals to tighten up existing laws set to be in place by spring 2020.
He said: “This review will look to tighten up the existing law to bring it into the 21st century, preventing reckless driving and reduce accidents on our roads.”
The move comes after a report by the Commons’ Transport Select Committee urged the government to introduce tougher restrictions on using a mobile phone while driving, including considering a ban on hands-free use.
In 2018, there were 29 deaths and 118 serious injuries in crashes where a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor.
Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, who chairs the committee, described the announcement as “great news” but warned that “the risk from hands-free devices is just as real”.
She added: “While we’re pleased that ministers will prioritise work on hand-held mobiles, this issue still needs to be addressed.”
RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams warned that tightening the rules on phone use is “only as powerful as the level of enforcement”.
He said: “In the absence of technology being used to catch offenders, the decline in the number of road police officers means there is a much lesser chance of being caught in person today than there was 10 years ago.”