You couldn’t make it up! Shocking footage of driver putting on her make-up as she drives along the M40

  • Unsafe drivers caught on camera by police patrolling in National Highways’ unmarked HGV cabs
  • Motorist seen steering with his knees while tucking into fast food on M6
  • Footage of driver using her mobile phone and looking at laptop
  • Multi-agency week of action taking place to tackle dangerous driving along length of M6

Travelling along the M40 in the morning traffic, this motorist is so focused on applying her make-up that she doesn’t notice the police officers driving alongside her.


Caption: Watch the police footage of this driver putting on makeup at the wheel here

Even when the officers in National Highways’ unmarked HGV cab beep the horn she carries on applying her make-up, the car swerving as she focuses on the mirror.

This is one of three pieces of footage released today by National Highways highlighting some of the shocking driving spotted by police using the unmarked HGVs. It comes ahead of a multi-agency week of action which will target unsafe drivers along the length of the M6.

The second piece of footage shows a van driver steering with his knees as he tucks into his fast food. With no hands on the wheel, he is seen eating a portion of fries, held in his right hand, before picking up his drink with his left hand.


Caption: A van driver is captured driving without his hands on the wheel eating fast food. Watch the footage here

Believed by police to be on a hands-free phone call, the driver then undertakes a truck in the second lane of the M6 as he drives past Corley Services. All was caught on camera by the police driving alongside in the Operation Tramline HGV.

Meanwhile, in a third incident, a motorist is spotted driving along the M40 with a phone in her hand, seemingly scrolling through her messages, and at one point with both hands off the wheel. The astonished officers then spot the driver ‘doing something’ with her laptop next to her. 


Caption: This driver was seen using her phone and looking at her laptop by police in the HGV, see the footage here

She puts the phone down as police let her know they are there – after alerting their colleagues travelling behind.

All three incidents were captured by Warwickshire Police patrolling in the unmarked HGV over just two days as part of the Operation Tramline safety campaign. A total of 63 offences were detected.

These are the latest in over 46,150 offences which have been recorded by officers in the Operation Tramline HGV cabs since the national safety initiative was launched by National Highways in 2015. The most common offences are not wearing a seatbelt (13,562) and using a mobile phone (11,965).

The HGV cabs are now being used as part of a Week of Action on the M6, taking place from Monday 3 June to Sunday 9 June, which aims to reduce the number of incidents on the motorway.

The week-long campaign takes place along the length of the M6, the longest motorway in the country, and so has been labelled Operation Vertebrae.

National Highways deals with over 200 reported incidents on the M6 every day – 74,960 on the road in 2023 including 3,808 traffic collisions.

National Highways Head of National Road User Safety Delivery, Matt Staton, said:

“We know that the shocking examples identified by police in our unmarked cabs are carried out by a small minority and, thankfully, that most of the drivers on our roads are part of the law-abiding majority.

“However, those who continue to take risks such as using their mobile phone at the wheel or other things that mean that their hands are off the wheel are putting themselves and others in danger. The Week of Action aims to make all of our roads safer by raising awareness and encouraging motorists to think carefully about their driving.

“Meanwhile, thanks to our Tramline HGVs, police have been able to put a stop to incidents of driving which could have very easily resulted in serious harm on the road.”

From their elevated viewpoint in the unmarked HGV cabs, police officers are able to spot people driving dangerously – whatever vehicle they may be in. Consequences for drivers range from warnings to fixed penalty notices, court summons or arrest.

hgv blur

Caption: One of the unmarked Operation Tramline HGVs

Seven forces are taking part in Operation Vertebrae – Lancashire, Cumbria, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Warwickshire Police and Central Motorway Police Group as well as the North West Commercial Vehicle Unit, North West Motorway Policing Group and a number of local road safety partnerships.

Inspector Si Paull, from Warwickshire Police, said:

“ Our officers are very enthusiastic about taking part in operations using National Highways owned unmarked HGVs because it allows us to intercept drivers like these who do not take driving seriously and could so easily be involved in a serious or fatal collision.

“Our aim is to save lives and unfortunately we are seeing too many drivers showing total disregard for their own safety and that of other road users whilst driving at motorway speeds.

“Warwickshire Police and partners will be running regular operations using the National Highways HGV this year and whilst we always choose to educate drivers first, due to the high stakes involved in some driving offences, officers will be robust in their actions against the motorists involved.”


Caption: Police spotted this unsafe load being driven down the M62 in Merseyside which resulted a fine and the vehicle being halted until the load was secure

Sgt Matthew Picton, from Cheshire Police Northwest Commercial Vehicle Unit, said:

“People continue to take risks on the country’s roads which is totally unacceptable. Having a driving licence comes with great responsibility to keep people safe. We all have a duty of care to each other on our roads.

“Operation Vertebrae is designed to bring internal and external partners together to target those who pose a risk on our roads. We cannot simply accept that five people a day in the UK are killed and thousands of others are seriously injured.

“This is about both enforcement and education to target those drivers who refuse to change their behaviour. We will be out on the motorway and we will take action against those who make the wrong decisions.”

For further information please contact National Highways’ press office (24hrs) on 0844 693 1448 and select Option 4 for West Midlands (between 9am & 5.30pm).