The Apple Watch was unveiled just over one week ago by Apple CEO Tim Cook, but already concerns are being raised about motorists using the smartwatch.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) believes that wearable technology is set to be the biggest distraction for road users since the emergence of mobile phones, potentially leading to increased danger for drivers.

"An Apple Watch has the potential to be just as distracting as any other smartphone device," said Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM. "Indeed more so if you have to take your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road to interact with it."

The UK Department of Transport has warned that drivers using smartwatches like the Apple Watch will face the same penalties as drivers caught using mobile phones.

The current punishment for causing an accident as a result of being distracted by a smartphone or similar gadget ranges from an on-the-spot fine to two years in prison.

More than 54,000 accidents were caused by drivers distracted from the road between 2010 and 2012, according to official figures.

"Powers exist to seize and interrogate devices in the event of a serious crash," Greig said. "The very device that distracted you also has the power to convict you.

"It has to be emphasised that anything causing even momentary distraction for the driver is not a welcome addition. While smartwatches might be the next big fashion accessory, there is nothing fashionable about a device that distracts you when behind the wheel."

Apple is yet to respond to a request for comment on the matter.