SOCIAL media site Twitter is a new risk to road safety, Cheshire Police have warned.

Officers will be out in force this winter to crack down on motorists who send online messages while behind the wheel.

Statistics show that drivers who use their mobile phones while behind the wheel are four times more likely to crash.

Police say that motorists are more at risk even if they use a hands free kit as they are much less aware of what’s happening on the road, fail to see road signs, react more slowly and can take longer to brake.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 motorists, it showed that while 92 per cent knew it was illegal to use a hand held mobile while driving, 45 per cent sent text messages and made calls while at the wheel.

Thirty-seven per cent said they found it impossible to ignore mobile alerts whilst driving and 19 per cent have rummaged through a handbag or pocket to try and find their phone while at the wheel.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: “Our advice to motorists is to remove the temptation by switching off all mobile phones, so that you can focus on the road ahead.”

In a study carried out by a professor, the reaction times of drivers in a driving simulator demonstrated how being distracted by a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel showed much slower reaction times than if the driver had been drinking alcohol.