Drivers who take directions from satellite navigation systems could put themselves and other road users at risk, British researchers have claimed.

According to the Daily Telegraph, a study of the reactions of volunteers using a driving simulator showed they were more distracted when given audio and visual instructions than if they had no external instructions to follow.

Dr Mark Wilson, a sports psychologist from Manchester Metropolitan University, reportedly said his findings demonstrated that satellite-based navigation systems distracted drivers and could cause accidents.

"If a pedestrian is crossing at the same time as a driver is concentrating on being given directions it could be enough to take their attention away and cause an accident," he told the annual conference of the British Psychological Society in Cardiff, according to the newspaper.

An RAC spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: "If you are a solo driver satnav can save you from having to look at a map while you are driving, which in itself can be dangerous.

"It gives the driver more time to concentrate on what he or she should be doing."

The report said about 250,000 satellite systems were sold in the last quarter of 2005.

Another recent report criticised the systems, which have become more popular in the UK since relatively cheap aftermarket models became available, for routing drivers down narrow lanes not designed for large volumes of traffic.