Drivers are risking the safety of themselves and others by eating, reading and even shaving behind the wheel, police have warned. 

A recent five-day clampdown on distracted drivers by Hampshire and Thames Valley police saw 151 drivers pulled over because they were distracted at the wheel. 

Among those stopped was a van driver caught eating cereal on the M27 and a HGV driver pulled over for having a shave on the M4. 

Police used a HGV tractor to monitor the behaviour of drivers of HGVs and other vehicles on the M3, M4, M40, M27 and A34. Of those stopped, 137 were caught using their mobile phones, while others were stopped for reading books or eating. Another 25 motorists were caught speeding, eight were stopped for careless driving and others for having insecure loads, no insurance or no road tax. 

A Hampshire police spokesman said many of those stopped for using their mobile phones were holding their devices below the wheel. 

In 2015, there were 1,732 fatalities and more than 22,000 serious injuries on the roads, many of which were caused by a lack of concentration behind the wheel. 

Richard Johnson, a road accident specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, welcomed the police crackdown but despaired at the findings. 

“It is difficult to understand why, despite numerous campaigns and high-profile tragedies, drivers continue to flout the law and risk their safety and that of others,” he said. 

“A vehicle is a dangerous weapon - one momentary concentration lapse can have devastating consequences, which we have seen first-hand in our work with the thousands of families whose lives have been torn apart by the death or serious injury of a loved one.” 

The government, Mr Johnson added, must support police forces in efforts to make British roads safer. 

“It’s imperative that the government provides police authorities with the funding they need to keep the British public safe on the roads and motorways. It also needs to look at tougher sentencing for those who choose to ignore the law, and improve support for road crash victims, including adequate funding for specialist support to families.”