Brake, the road safety charity, has welcomed reports that the government is considering doubling penalty points for using a mobile phone while driving.
The reports say the move has been recommended by Metropolitan Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has asked his officials to look into the idea.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "This is a welcome proposal, and we hope the government will implement it. Brake has long campaigned for tougher penalties for mobile phone use at the wheel because of the suffering we see the bereaved and injured victims of road crashes put through as the result of such a senseless and unnecessary risk. An increase in penalty points is a step in the right direction, but it could provide a more effective deterrent if combined with a increase in the fixed penalty fine to £500-1,000, as well as heightened traffic enforcement, so risky law-breaking drivers know they will not get away with it.
"It is also vitally important the government doesn't ignore the danger of hands-free mobiles. Research shows using a phone hands-free is about as risky as picking up the phone while driving, so this should be included within the ban, and carry the same penalty. Our message to drivers is clear: switch your phone off, put it out of sight and reach, and remove the temptation to jeopardise someone's life for the sake of a call or text."
A recent survey by Brake and Direct Line showed almost half of drivers admit using a mobile phone while driving, with the use of hands-free a growing danger.