Mazda ad shows Facebook and Twitter access on in-car touchscreen. File photo: Mazda

London - The rush by car makers to provide motorists with access to Facebook and Twitter on their dashboards could lead to a surge in deaths on the road, road safety campaigners have warned.

Car manufacturers including Toyota, Honda, Mazda and Fiat have this year released models that allow drivers to check social networking websites.

Kevin Delaney from the Institute of Advanced Motorists said the entertainment systems can be incredibly dangerous.

He said: “If you take your eyes of the road for a few seconds you are covering an awful lot of ground without looking where you are going,“ he said. “This could lead to more deaths on the roads, in exactly the same way as people using their smart phones at the wheel has.”

The row emerges as the British government announced last weekend that drivers caught using their smart phones will be hit with a six point penalty on their driving licence – double the current penalty.

Car makers have insisted their technology is safe. They argue that much of it can be operated by voice or controls on the steering wheel.

But Delaney said much of the voice technology is not reliable enough, making it more likely that drivers will have to take their eyes off the road.

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