Say no to food on the go

To the dangers of drivers chatting on their mobile phones has been added another threat - the munching motorist.

The RAC warned yesterday that snacking and steering had become rife, with drivers refusing to take proper meal breaks. Edmund King, the motoring organisation's head of campaigns, said: "People's busy lives now seem to preclude lunch breaks as they attempt to guzzle and go." The practice was extremely dangerous, he said.

RAC patrols have observed a wide range of eating experiences among motorists. One BMW driver was feeding a baby while driving around a corner. Another driver was eating a Chinese meal with chopsticks.

In keeping with the Christmas spirit, one motorist was trying to eat a full turkey leg while keeping on the road and one woman was spotted trying to pick mince pie crumbs from her cleavage. Another was eating trifle while negotiating a roundabout.

Mr King said: "We could hardly believe some of our patrols' observations. While the incidents mentioned may be amusing, the hazards they create for drivers and other road users should not be dismissed."

The perils of the eating motorist come in the wake of concern over mobile phone use in cars. Government research found that motorists using telephones, including hands-free devices, can be sufficiently distracted to be regarded as unsafe.

Baroness Hayman, the road safety minister, told peers in November that "there is an association between telephone use and increased accident risk".

Police in the West Midlands have begun a recent crackdown in which motorists seen using hand-held telephones have been issued with a pounds 20 fixed penalty ticket or reported for prosecution.