The Department of Transportation is consulting on updating the laws so that phone calls and texts aren’t the only prohibited functions while driving.
An exemption will be granted under plans to allow the use of cell phones for contactless payments if a vehicle is stationary and the goods or services are delivered immediately, such as for a take out service.
Ministers rejected calls to go further by banning the use of hands-free functions – drivers will still be able to safely continue to use “hands-free” devices while driving, such as secure GPS in a cradle.
Road Minister Baroness Vere said: “Our roads are among the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they are even safer by bringing the law into the 21st century.
“This is why we are seeking to strengthen the law to make the use of a cell phone while driving a vehicle illegal in a wider range of circumstances.
“It’s distracting and dangerous, and for too long risky drivers have been able to escape punishment, but this update will mean those who do the wrong thing will face the full force of the law. ”
The change in law would apply across Britain and is expected to come into force early next year, pending the outcome of the consultation.
In 2019, there were 637 fatalities on UK roads – including 18 fatalities and 135 serious injuries – in crashes where a driver using a mobile was a contributing factor.
The penalty for drivers caught breaking the rules on the use of hand-held mobile phones is six penalty points and a fine of £ 200.