Drivers who cause death when looking at their mobile phoneswill face life in jail for the first time under Government plans to be revealed on Monday.
In a major hardening of sentencing guidelines, ministers will propose raising the upper limit of imprisonment for dangerous drivers who kill from 14 years to a lifetime.
It is designed to send a “clear message” that people who cause “immeasurable pain” to families with reckless driving should be given a “punishment that fits the crime”.
The move comes after a string of high-profile cases where children have been killed when people at the wheel failed to brake while being distracted by their phones.
Last year, 122 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving and a further 21 people were convicted for killing someone when under the influence of drink or drugs.
Ministers have become concerned at whether the punishments are harsh enough, with evidence showing the average sentence for causing death while driving is less than four years.
Sam Gyimah, the justice minister, said: “Killer drivers ruin lives. Their actions cause immeasurable pain to families, who must endure tragic, unnecessary losses.
My message is clear – if you drive dangerously and kill on our roads, you could face a life sentence
Sam Gyimah, the justice minister
“While impossible to compensate for the death of a loved one, we are determined to make sure the punishment fits the crime.
“My message is clear – if you drive dangerously and kill on our roads, you could face a life sentence.”
Ministers will tomorrow propose increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving or when under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life.
They will also suggest creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, with a maximum sentence of three years.
Dangerous driving includes speeding, street racing and also using a mobile phone when at the wheel, which ministers have become increasingly concerned about.
In October, a lorry driver who killed a woman and three children by hitting their stationary car while looking at his mobile phone was jailed for 10 years.
Tomasz Kroker, 30, smashed into the vehicle carrying Tracey Houghton, 45, her sons, Ethan Houghton, 13, and Josh Houghton, 11, and her stepdaughter, Aimee Goldsmith, 11, at 50mph on August 10.
Their car was shunted underneath the back of a heavy goods vehicle and crushed to a third of its size, immediately killing the family, from Bedfordshire, at the scene on the A34 dual carriageway north of Newbury in Berkshire.
Kroker, from Andover, Hampshire, had pleaded guilty to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Reading Crown Court on October 10.
The court had heard that Kroker, who himself had become a father five months before the incident, was so distracted by his phone that he barely looked at the road for almost a kilometre.
Passing sentence, Judge Maura McGowan said his attention had been so poor that he “might as well have had his eyes closed”.
Just an hour earlier he had signed a declaration to his employer, promising he would not use his phone at the wheel.
Kroker’s truck ploughed into a stationary queue of two lorries and four smaller vehicles which were stuck behind a slow-moving articulated lorry near the villages of East and West Ilsley at around 5.10pm.
A man was seriously injured and four other people were hurt in the horrific accident.