South Yorkshire driver swerved as he ate cake on M1

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A MOTORIST spotted swerving on a motorway as he tucked into a slice of cake has been fined by magistrates.

John Barton, aged 54, was spotted on a police camera weaving from lane to lane on a link road between the M1 and M18 last September.

Police said he had both hands off the wheel and was steering with his elbows as he munched on a cheesecake.

Barton, from Todwick, near Rotherham, pleaded not guilty at Rotherham Magistrates’ Court and said he was in full control and only eating a small marshmallow.

But he was found guilty of failing to have proper control of his vehicle and fined £200 and ordered to pay £400 costs.

After the case he denied eating the cheesecake, but said he had a small marshmallow or teacake and he had not taken both hands off the wheel.

He claimed the reason the van was serving was due to gale force winds which had closed the Tinsley viaduct.

Mr Barton said: “I was weaving but not because of me having my hands off the steering wheel, I just wouldn’t do that.

“I feel it was all an injustice. I was eating but not a cheesecake, it was a little marshmallow which I took from the dashboard in just a few seconds.

“People with cigarettes hold them with one hand on the steering wheel and all I did was take a chocolate teacake or whatever off the dashboard. It seems to me you just can’t fight the law.”

But Martin Howard, spokesman for road safety campaign group Brake said: “We are deeply concerned about the actions of this driver, who has placed his own life at risk, along with the lives of other road users.

“Being distracted at the wheel is extremely dangerous and one of the major causes of crashes taking place in the UK every day.”

Chief Inspector Stuart Walne, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “This is the same sort of case as a mobile phone. When you’re behind the wheel it’s potentially a lethal weapon.

“You have to be in proper control or you risk injuries to others and yourself. When things go wrong they get very serious, especially on a motorway or busy road.”