DRIVERS have been caught on Greater Manchester's motorway network watching television on their mobile phone, texting and even eating noodles when behind the wheel.

Greater Manchester Police has recently carried out a 12 day operation on roads around the area.

The crackdown was part of Operation Tramline, a national initiative targeted dangerous and anti-social behaviour.

It used an unmarked HGV to catch motorists flouting the rules of the road.

A total of 239 driving offencers were recorded by traffic officers during the 12 day operation, including watching television on a mobile phone, eating food, texting and driving without due care and attention.

GMP has been working in partnership with Highways England to patrol the network, filming the driving habits of motorists to detect and prevent road offences from the elevated position of the HGV cab.

Observations included 57 handheld mobile phone offences and 56 drivers failing to wear a seatbelt.

There was 32 drivers spotted committing motorway verge offences, such as crossing chevrons and 10 motorists were stopped for driving without due care and attention.

The operation resulted in five people being arrested, 179 traffic offence reports being issued and 30 fixed penalty notices issued to both UK and foreign drivers.

Chief Inspector Tariq Butt, from GMP’s Traffic Unit said: “Drivers continue to put themselves and others at risk when they are not in full control of their vehicle so Operation Tramline is crucial in raising awareness of a driver’s responsibilities and keeping our road networks safe at all times.

“Taking your eyes off the road, even for a second can have serious consequences, so be sure to remove any distraction. Secure your seatbelt before driving, keep your phone out of sight and keep your eyes on the road at all times.”

During the operation two motorway vehicles followed the HGV at distance to stop offenders.

Drivers that could not be stopped were recorded and being dealt with via conditional offer in the postal system.

Anthony Thorpe, Highways England incident prevention team advisor, said: “The vast majority of drivers pay attention when they’re on the motorway but a minority are putting themselves and others at risk by not driving safely.

“The HGV cab project has been patrolling motorways and major a roads over the past couple of years and by working with police forces across the country, we’re making a real difference to help improve road safety and we’re pleased that the initiative is helping to protect motorists. We will continue to use the HGV cab to tackle deaths and serious injuries and to encourage people to improve how they drive.

“Doing what we can to reduce incidents on our network not only improves safety but it reduces congestion and provides more reliable journeys for the four million customers that use our motorways and trunk roads each day.”

Keeping road users safe has been a key target of GMP during December and it has also carried out a crackdown on drink and drug-drivers.

In the first 16 days of the festive crackdown, GMP carried out 463 breath tests, leading to 149 arrests.

Seventeen people tested positive for drink or drugs following a collision, while 132 were caught by officers carrying out breath tests and check sites.

Officers have been patrolling the roads throughout the Christmas period, including the morning after, to make sure people are fit to be behind the wheel.

Motorists caught over the limit face at least a year’s driving ban, criminal record and a fine of up to £5000. If you have concerns about someone's driving, call 101.