More than one in five motorists in the UK said they check a social media alert from sites such as Facebook and Twitter while driving, according to new research figures.

UK-based motoring organisation RAC has revealed that about a third or 39% of the country’s drivers admit to being distracted by calls, texts and social media applications on their mobile phones while on the road.

The top five social media sites and applications that motorists admitted to using while on the road were email with an 11% usage rate, Google Maps with 9%, photos with 8%, and Facebook with 7%.

Meanwhile, the number of drivers taking calls and sending text messages at the wheel has risen from 8% to 28% and 11% to 31% respectively, tripling last year’s results.

More than half or 53% motorists admit they are likely to check who is calling, while 45% admit they would read the text during driving.

Young drivers aged between 17 and 24 years are most likely to look at their phones while driving if it rings or beeps, with 58% admitting to doing it.

Almost 46% of all motorists who receive calls during driving said they are not distracted by them, and 47% believe texting on the road does not divert their attention from driving.

The figures show 26% believe it is acceptable to use phones when their vehicle is stationary and at traffic lights, 33% believe using a phone in a lay-by is permissible, and 9% say using phones while stuck in traffic is reasonable.