Car insurance provider Swinton is warning drivers not to 'tweet' and drive following an increase in the number of accidents caused by social networking behind the wheel.
Swinton has reported a 12% increase in the number of car insurance claims for accidents caused by drivers using Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites while driving.
The insurer has found that most of the incidents have been minor, with drivers knocking into each other in slow moving traffic, but warns that not only can being distracted behind the wheel lead to a potentially serious accident, it can also result in a costly insurance claim and even a conviction for driving without due care and attention.
There is already an on-the-spot penalty of £60 and three points for using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving; Swinton is urging all drivers to turn their mobiles, smart phones and PDAs off before driving.
"As technology advances, we are seeing more and more drivers using smart phones and other devices while behind the wheel - and this is leading to more accidents on our roads," says Steve Chelton, from Swinton car insurance.
"Even in slow moving traffic, writing or reading a message is a major distraction. Our advice is simple - turn off any electronic equipment before getting into a car for a safer journey."
Swinton's research follows a Halfords survey that revealed that one in 20 of drivers read a post on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, while behind the wheel.
The Halfords survey found that 5% read a post on Facebook, Twitter or another social site, that 2% post on Facebook or send an email, 3% read their emails while still in charge of a car and 2% said they had used the internet whilst driving to check traffic reports and find directions.
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