THE Institute of Advanced Motoring (IAM) has called for government action to highlight the dangers of using smartphones behind the wheel.

They say attitudes to seatbelts and drink driving have changed dramatically over the last 30 years and halting smartphone use could become a similar success story.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “This research shows how incredibly dangerous using smartphones while driving is, yet unbelievably it is relatively common practice.

If you’re taking your hand off the wheel to use the phone, reading the phone display and thinking about your messages, then you’re simply not concentrating on driving. It’s antisocial networking and it’s more dangerous than drink-driving and it must become as socially unacceptable.”

• 24 per cent of 17 to 24-year-old drivers admit to using smartphones for email and social networking

• Using a smartphone for social networking slows reaction times by 37.6 per cent

• Texting slows reaction times by 37.4 per cent

• Hands-free mobile phone conversation slows reaction times by 26.5 per cent

• Cannabis slows reaction times by 21 per cent

• Alcohol above legal limit but below 100mg per 100ml of blood slows reaction times between 6 and 15 per cent

• Alcohol at the legal limit slows reaction times by 12.5 per cent.