Drivers caught using a handheld mobile phone will get six points on their licence and a £200 fine, the Government says.
Under new rules, which will apply to England, Scotland and Wales, more experienced drivers caught breaking the rules twice could also be fined up to £1,000 and face at least a six-month driving ban.
Meanwhile, newly qualified drivers could be made to retake their test the first time they are caught.
The penalties, which will increase from three penalty points and a £100 fine, are expected to be introduced in the first half of 2017.
In Northern Ireland, drivers are currently given three penalty points and a £60 fine for the offence. However, there are currently no plans to change this.
Of the 1,700 people questioned by the motoring organisation, 14% said they had even taken photos and made films while driving.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Increasing the fine from £100 to £200 and doubling the penalty points from three to six will help to deter people from doing it in the first place.
“However, it is just as important that laws are seen to be enforced, and the decline in the numbers of dedicated road traffic police has only heightened the feeling that those who use a handheld phone while driving simply get away with it.”
Department for Transport figures show that a driver impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014, including 21 that were fatal and 84 classed as serious.
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