More than one in five (21 percent) of motorists check websites - including social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter - while they're driving, according to the RAC.

And the 2010 RAC Report on Motoring revealed that more than a quarter (28 percent) of drivers now admit to taking phone calls on the road, compared to just eight percent last year.

Furthermore, 31 percent of motorists read text messages while driving - that's nearly triple the figure last year.

Of those that check websites when driving, 11 percent said they look at emails, while nine percent checked out Google Maps. Seven percent said they look at Facebook.

More than half (53 percent) admitted they check to see who's calling if their phone rings while they're driving, while 45 percent will read a text if it arrives during a journey.

Perhaps most worryingly, 46 percent of drivers believe taking a call during a journey has no impact on their driving and 47 percent claim texting on the road doesn't divert their attention.

Furthermore, 26 percent think it is ok to use a mobile when the car is stationary at traffic lights, while nine percent believe it's permissible if they're stuck in traffic.

Rising mobile phone usage on the road

"It's extremely concerning that the use of mobile phones for texting and calling has risen in the past year. It is also worrying that people are admitting to using their phone for a whole host of social media applications while driving," said RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink.

"Taking your eye off the road, just for a second, to read an alert or check who a call came from can have potentially fatal results. This steep rise in mobile phone usage at the wheel could potentially be set to continue as more and more people embrace smartphone technology."

The RAC advised drivers to put phones on silent or turn them off while driving. Alternatively, the motoring organisation suggested investing in a device that enables hands-free calling.

See also: 5 years jail for mobile-phone death drivers