Motorists caught twice operating a mobile phone while driving will be banned and given a fine of up to £1,000, under new legislation.

Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, will introduce much tougher penalties on drivers using phones after growing demand following a spate of fatal accidents.

Research by the RAC has found illicit use of mobile phones by drivers is on the up with almost a third confessing to using a hand-held device compared to 8 per cent in 2014.

Government sources reported that the plan is to double the current penalty of a £100 fine and three points on the driving licence of the culprit.

Under the new rules anyone calling, texting or using an app while driving will incur a £200 on-the-spot fine and six points on their licence, it is understood. The fine could increase to a maximum of £1,000.

It also means that newly qualified drivers – who can lose a maximum of six points before being disqualifies for the first two years after passing their test – will face an instant ban if they are caught using a phone at the wheel.

Mobile phone use was a contributing factor in 21 deadly accidents in 2014 and 22 in 2015.

Mr Grayling 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.

“We all have a part to play in ensuring our family and friends do not use their phones while driving. I will be announcing a tougher new penalty regime shortly.”

It is predicted that the new penalties will take effect in the first half of 2017.

Government numbers show that a driver impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014 – 21 of which were fatal and 84 classed as serious.

According to the RAC research found that 31 per cent of drivers said they used a handheld phone behind the wheel compared with 8 per cent in 2014.

The number of motorists who said they sent a message or posted on social media rose from 7 per cent to 19 per cent, while 14 per cent said they had taken a photograph or video while driving.

The survey of 1,714 UK motorists for the RAC’s annual Report on Motoring found that 7 per cent of those who admitted using a mobile while driving said they did it because they knew they would get away with it.