Ministers want to double the punishment for the illegal use of a mobile phone while driving, under new plans.
Motorists caught using a handheld phone while driving are currently given three penalty points and a minimum fine of £100.
But that could be increased to a six point penalty – meaning new drivers would lose their licence the first time they are caught using a handheld phone – and a minimum fine of £200.
Edmund King, AA president, said: “This is radical. One text and you’re out. But if we are to change the attitudes of young drivers maybe it has to be that harsh.
“They are going to have to turn off their phones at the wheel otherwise they will be taken off the road.”
New drivers who are disqualified have to pay for a new provisional licence and have to pass theory and practical tests again to regain their full licence.
More experienced drivers can lose their licence if they get 12 penalty points within a three-year period.
Figures from the Department of Transport show that a driver distracted by their phone was a factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014 – including 21 that were fatal.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the tougher sentences would be introduced as soon as possible.
He said: “As technology develops, mobile phones are common place, but we need to take responsibility for our actions and as drink or drug driving has become socially unacceptable, so must using mobile phones at the wheel.
“It may seem harmless when you are replying to a text, answering a call or using an app, but the truth is your actions could kill and cause untold misery to others.”
Research published by the RAC earlier this week found that almost one-third (31%) of motorists admitted using a handheld phone behind the wheel, compared to just 8% in 2014.
The proportion of drivers who admitted sending a message or posting on social media rose from 7% to 19% over the same period.