Lorry driver caught eating baked beans with both hands off wheel

ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney joined police as part of the live operation

A driver who was eating baked beans at the wheel was among those stopped by specialist roads policing officers during a crackdown on distracted motorists.

In just two hours, officers stopped nine drivers who were distracted in some way, either because they were using their mobile phone or eating.

PC Nigel Rozier, Roads Policing Officer, said: "He had both hands off the steering wheel... The implications of that are terrifying, if he hasn't got proper control of that vehicle, he's alongside smaller cars, it could be catastrophic really."

Officers were travelling on a Stagecoach bus, which gives them a better viewpoint to spot those breaking the law.

The officers on board work together, recording evidence on camera, on a dictaphone and on paper.

Police officers use a camera to record evidence. Credit: ITV News Meridian

If drivers are seen using a phone, the officers on the bus contact a nearby unit who will pull over the driver and take appropriate action.

PC Dave Hazlett, Hampshire Roads Policing Unit, said: "People aren't expecting officers to be on the bus.

"Some may claim it's a sneaky tactic, but if you're not using your device and you've got no concerns you shouldn't be worried."

The operation was run by the Hampshire and Thames Valley Police's Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit as part of a national mobile phone campaign this February.

Some studies have shown using a phone while at the wheel is more dangerous than drink driving.

PC Liz Johnson, Roads Safety Officer, said: "You are four times more likely to be involved in a collision if you're distracted by your phone.

"I would ask people to challenge those drivers. If you're in a vehicle with somebody else and they are distracted by their phone, just remind them to don't be distracted. That call can wait."

The operation is resource intensive, with three officers recording the offences on the bus, while four more are in vehicles pulling drivers who have been spotted committing offences.

The crackdown was part of a joint operation with Hampshire and Thames Valley Police.

PC Alastair Jarratt, Thames Valley Roads Policing, said: "It works better this way because we have really good evidence. We point out the evidence really early on.

"Everyone I've had today has said I'm really sorry and held the hands up straight away."

Handheld mobile phones are illegal whilst driving. Phones should be placed in a cradle and must not be touched. The penalty is a £200 fine and six points on the licence.