UK car insurer esure has cooked up an app that addresses the increasing danger of smartphone-induced driver distraction.

The app was created in response to research carried out by the Transport Research laboratory which uncovered all manner of worrying driver behaviour related to having a smartphone on board.

For starters, one fifth of drivers confess to using their handset while driving, an act which is currently illegal in the UK. Meanwhile, 84 per cent use some kind of gadget behind the wheel, whether it's phones, satnavs or MP3 players.

Smartphone driver distraction

The study found that drivers trying to send text messages while driving took 23 per cent longer to react to hazards, equivalent to driving blind for nearly 10 metres at motorway speeds. Yikes.

It also found that fiddling with things like facebook updates made drivers more likely to drift across lanes and drive too close to the car in front.

The overall upshot is that having a mobile phone in the car was more distracting than a screaming baby. Consequently, drivers distracted by handsets are significantly more likely to be involved in accidents, despite often slowing down to use them.

And it's not all down to frivolous social networking. When attitudes were examined, a fifth said they felt work-related or time pressures to take a call or reply to text and emails while behind the wheel.

DriveOFF app

According to Stuart Vann, Chief Executive Officer at esure, "these findings are a real concern - so many drivers are putting themselves, their passengers and other road users at risk by simply having a ringing, beeping, flashing mobile in the car - even if they don't answer it."

The solution is a smartphone app called DriveOFF which uses GPS technology to automatically disable audible and visible notifications when driving over 10mph.

DriveOFF app

DriveOFF, which turns off all other apps and stops incoming calls or texts, has taken six months to produce and aims to help save the lives of motorists and other road users who are involved in road traffic accidents due to technological distractions behind the wheel.

DriveOFF is available for free from Google play for Android devices. No word yet on iPhone availability, but in the meantime, check out the official video: