Motorists could be distracted for up to seven seconds when hearing their mobile phone ring while driving, according to a new study.
The Transport Research Laboratory used simulator scenarios to test drivers on their reaction to an unexpected occurrence when trying to send a text or answer a phone call.
Exactly one-fifth (20%) of those tested moved their eyes off the road for more than seven seconds when hearing their phone ring, while drivers took 23% longer to respond to an unforeseen motoring incident after being distracted by their phones.
The findings could be jeopardising manycar insurance policies as drivers were shown to move 8.5metres 'blind' while driving at 70mph.
Motorists were found to look away from the road for more than three times longer when compared to standard driving conditions, or four times longer to answer a text message.
Almost a quarter (22%) of drivers admitted they had answered their phone from behind the wheel, despite 65% describing it as an 'irresponsible' action.
Over three-quarters (84%) were distracted by driver gadgets - with 34% using mobile devices, 32% relying on Satnavs and 10% tinkering with iPods or MP3 players.
Copyright Press Association 2012