The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has welcomed the launch of a new consultation that will examine the efficacy of increasing the penalties for individuals that use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

The Department for Transport hopes to receive feedback on plans to increase the level of fixed-penalty fines from £100 to £150 for offenders, while the number of points on a person's licence that can be added following a prosecution is to rise from three to four.

It is hoped that the tougher stance on this serious and dangerous behaviour will serve to help cut offender numbers in the years ahead.

Responding to the launch of the new consultation, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: "Far too many road accidents, some resulting in death, are due to driver distraction and we believe that the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving ranks high on the list.

"This proposed legislation sends a clear message to motorists and HGV drivers that if they are caught, the fines will be considerable and for many, could have a real impact on their ability to work."

However, Mr Burnett added that while the RHA is fully in support of new legislation to clamp down on offenders, the new tougher stance on hand-held mobile usage will only be effective in improving safety if it is effectively enforced.

This means an increase in roads policing is required, as the number of officers patrolling the UK's transport network has now fallen by almost one-quarter (23 per cent) since 2010.