Documentary series centred on the A1. Traffic police in Scotland respond to an emergency with an overturned car, and tempers boil over after a double crash at rush hour.
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The A1, Britain's longest road.
Stretching almost 400 miles, from the City of London
to the heart of the Scottish capital.
Connecting two nations and passing through 18 counties.
It's an unrivalled highway,
used by hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day.
We're going southbound, down the A1,
on the northbound carriageway.
But not all journeys go to plan.
I thought, am I going to lose my life?
Cars are coming close. It is the dangerous place to be.
Lives can hang in the balance.
The rear end of that vehicle, it's unrecognisable.
This is actually the bodywork of the car.
24 hours a day...
It's not a safe place here.
..there's a team of people who keep us safe from harm.
We don't know whether they've got the road closed... We don't know what's happened.
..and traffic officers...
..keeping Britain's most iconic road...
-..on the move.
Substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.
The A1, the monster that it is, will start to return to normal.
..traffic police in Scotland...
-..deal with a shocking incident.
This is actually the bodywork of the car.
A collision near Newcastle puts traffic officers' lives at risk.
Cars are coming close.
It is the dangerous place to be.
And it's doughnuts at dawn
as racers refuel at one of the A1's biggest diners.
Got to eat, boys. I want to save up for one of these cars!
Spanning nearly 400 miles,
the A1 passes by some of Britain's most recognisable landmarks.
From Ferrybridge Power Station in West Yorkshire,
to the bustling metropolis of Newcastle.
But as the road enters Scotland,
it cuts through much more barren landscapes,
where the hills of the Borders meet the wild North Sea.
Patrolling this isolated section of the road
near the border with England are PCs Stuart Logan and Davey Johnson.
This area's rugged beauty is certainly captivating,
even for those who spend countless hours driving through it.
Very picturesque down here, too.
-The sea would be a touch chilly, though.
But it's very nice to look at.
As night falls, Stuart and Davey's first emergency call comes in.
When vehicles career off the road, there's a real threat to life.
People can be trapped inside with serious injuries.
And Stuart and Davey fear the car could cause more havoc.
Our concern will be that a secondary collision could occur.
People are not anticipating
a stricken car lying in the middle of a road.
So it's really imperative that you get there quickly
in order to make the scene as safe as we can.
The accident is just off the A1, along a winding,
unlit section of a rural B-road.
As they head round the bend, they're greeted by a shocking sight.
Somehow, the car has ended up on its side,
right in the middle of the road.
Miraculously, the driver has walked away with minor injuries
and is being treated by paramedics.
Are you OK? Are you sore?
-No, I'm not sore, just shaken.
-OK, no problem.
To prevent another accident,
Stuart and Davey now need to stop all traffic at the scene.
Stuart's pretty sure he knows
how the car's ended up in such a bizarre position.
Looking at the scene here, it's clear what's happened -
that the driver's come round this bend
that we've just come round here,
and then obviously then subsequently made contact with the shrubbery
and the wire fencing.
And it's obviously just hit the vehicle at an absolute sweet spot,
which has caused it to overturn.
The car's a total write-off,
but Stuart's convinced that it saved the driver's life.
While the driver's taken away for treatment,
Stuart must now figure out how to remove the rolled-over car
and get the road reopened.
Every year, there are over 2,000 separate accidents
along the A1 between London and Edinburgh.
One in every seven takes place along a short stretch near Newcastle.
Today, traffic officers Peter Senior and Scott Wilson...
-..will patrol a part of this corridor of collisions.
Charlie, Lima 41, go ahead, over.
Ironically, an area
that's watched over by the A1's very own guardian angel.
There's Rusty Rita, Peter.
Aye, Rusty Rita, Angel of the North.
Our role is basically keeping the traffic moving, erm,
and dealing with absolutely anything that can happen out on the road.
People keep asking, "What's a typical day?"
It's a difficult question to answer, because you just never know
what you're going to be dealing with.
We've got something in the opposite carriageway.
The pair quickly head towards the scene.
It appears this troublesome section of the A1
has claimed its latest victim.
Hello. Are you all right?
-Have you had a little bump, have you?
-Have you exchanged your details with the other driver?
-Yeah, these are his details here.
-It's just... You know when you just don't know what to do?
Nicole Wall's been left badly shaken
after a near miss caused her to hit the kerb.
-You're not injured at all?
-Is the car badly damaged?
Um, I can't drive, because both those wheels are knackered.
We'll just hang on, while you make sure you get something sorted, OK?
With her boyfriend on the way,
Peter knows there's a limit to what he can do.
Well, we're not mechanics.
I mean, as drivers, yes, we do know how to change a wheel,
but, you know, it's out of our role to do that.
For Nicole, today's routine journey along the A1 has ended
with a seriously scary experience.
So Pete's role is to offer a comforting shoulder to cry on.
What I'll do, I'll pass your details to our control room,
they might give you a ring in a while,
to make sure you're all right and you're getting sorted.
-Is there any other concerns before we leave you?
-You're all right now, are you?
-Yeah, I'm better now, yeah.
Take care, OK?
I think she was just pleased to see somebody
who could give her a bit of advice and reassurance.
You know, I think it helped put her at comfort a bit.
For Peter and Scott,
it's just the start of what promises to be a long and busy shift on this
dangerous and anything-but-angelic stretch of road.
With hundreds of thousands of vehicles using the A1 every day,
there are literally millions of motorists' mouths to feed.
But refreshments are never too far away...
..at places such as the A1's Stadium Diner near Grantham,
which attracts more than 200 truckers a day.
They flock there for home-made classics,
generous portions and service with a smile.
Thanks for that.
Margaret and Albert White
have made their fortune keeping A1 truckers trucking.
Yeah, we have steak pie, mince and onion pie,
chicken and mushroom, cottage pie, chilli, lasagne.
And with her personally designed menu,
it's Margaret's way or the highway.
They're not allowed to do anything different.
If they do anything different, they get told off, don't you, Mary?
To ensure her loyal customers don't decide to drive on by,
Margaret knows standards have to be kept high.
Oh, no. They're not cooked enough. Nowhere near.
Nicola. They want putting back on, they're as hard as rock.
-Can't saute them.
But the diner is just one part of their empire.
With parking space for 200-300 lorries,
and a massive refilling station,
Albert's gone from a humble trucker to a successful businessman.
The business is growing from when we first took the truck stop.
We was probably doing 20, 30 lorries a night, parking up.
We're now to 200-plus a night.
We're just busier and busier.
I think what they say is from a little acorn grows an oak tree,
or something like that.
So this is our oak tree now, I think. That's... Yeah.
Albert's still looking for ways to pull in the pounds
from the nearby A1.
He's recently shelled out over 120 grand
on a state-of-the-art truck wash.
We've always wanted one of these. I've always wanted one.
So, er, it's quite nice to say I've got as good a truck wash
as anybody else has got.
And, yes, it's pleasing to see it working.
It's even more pleasing when there's three lorries behind it
waiting to be washed, but we can't have everything.
Not this weather.
More than 230 miles north in the Scottish Borders,
PCs Stuart Logan and Davey Johnson
are still dealing with an unusual crash just off the A1.
Aye, I mean, it's a bit of a wallop.
This is actually the bodywork of the car
that's skidded along the road.
-Probably be the door handle and the mirror.
The driver's lost control on a bend and spun the car onto its side.
I can only assume that she's climbed out through this open window,
erm, because the door -
it would be quite a significant weight to push that door up
to get out.
Miraculously, she's escaped with minor injuries.
With the pick-up truck now here,
Stuart and Davey can move the car off the road.
You attach the chains to the top side of it,
pull it down onto its wheels,
and then it'll be winched onto the back of the truck.
It took a dramatic chain of events for the car
to end up in this position.
Getting it back on four wheels isn't for the faint-hearted, either.
It's only now that Stuart and Davey
can see the full impact the car's absorbed.
You can see the fuel rim's completely sheared.
And Stuart knows the driver's lucky to be alive.
It's down to luck whether another vehicle
came round the bend, or didn't,
and subsequently caused a secondary collision.
But I think this just comes as a stark reminder to us all
that you are very, very vulnerable on the roads.
For the officers, it's back to the A1.
Davey's been patrolling this patch for over two decades,
and over the years,
he's seen a common theme emerge when it comes to crashes.
Most of the accidents I've attended haven't been down to speed,
it's been down to driver error.
At this time of year, you know, the roads are really slippery,
and then you come to, er, say...
you know, a tight bend on a country road
and you go to turn on it and the road surface is slippy,
and rather than go round a corner,
you just end up going straight on, as perhaps what happened tonight.
Thankfully, this remote stretch of the A1 in the Borders
remains quiet throughout the rest of their shift.
But as Stuart heads back to the station,
he spots something he can't ignore.
I've just noticed that there's, er,
there's an abnormal load escort
on the opposing carriageway on the A1
and I heard on the radio that they've suffered a blow-out.
It's 11pm -
and Stuart is unlikely to be heading home any time soon.
Around 70 miles south, on the outskirts of Newcastle,
traffic officers Pete and Scott
are on night patrol along this most troublesome section.
Alpha, Charlie, Lima 41.
It's rush-hour, and with traffic at its peak,
the pair are expecting problems.
Something stationary on the other carriageway.
Is it an RTC or a breakdown?
-INDISTINCT RADIO VOICE
-Breakdown, I think.
Police are already on the scene,
but Peter and Scott need to double back and take over the job.
However, it's soon clear this simple breakdown
is more hazardous than they first expected.
You can see that officer, he's half on the verge,
but half into the running lane.
Now, that could encourage traffic to try and pass,
so we've positioned our vehicle fully into lane one,
where we'll take control of the traffic behind.
With vehicles speeding around the bend at 70 mph,
they need to make the scene safe by warning oncoming traffic.
I've put in a 100-metre taper of cones and directional arrows -
and already, you can see how traffic's
now filtering out into the outer lanes.
Scott's just put a line of cones down past the incident.
The idea of that, it means when vehicles get past us,
they're not likely to just try and jump back in,
which, again, could be dangerous.
It turns out the white car
has actually been involved in an accident,
leaving driver Misha Patterson stranded for an hour.
The A1 was at a standstill.
I was stationary, cos there was someone in front
trying to get in, on to the A1, and she just smashed in the back.
A bit shook up.
Have you got recovery on the way?
How long are they going to be?
Right. What we'll do is... It's a bit dangerous.
What we'll probably do is we'll get recovery sorted for you,
with it being so close to the live running lane.
If they come before then, that's fair enough,
but we'll just get the ball rolling. All right?
With traffic hurtling past the scene,
Scott knows that the risk of a second crash is high.
Some people might not see that and then come and maybe clip it,
or panic when they do see it and then swerve out.
It is... It is a safety risk.
The cordon adds a full element, that they won't see anything.
Even when we came down the slip, and we knew where it was,
we couldn't see it until we were right on it.
Even with a safety cordon in place,
approaching vehicles are struggling to move out of the lane in time.
Cars are coming close and they're going past quite quick, as well,
so it is the dangerous place to be.
And all it takes is for one driver to misjudge the situation
to cause further chaos.
I mean, Peter's extended our taper, but, as you can still see,
cars are still coming up on to our taper of cones and not seeing it.
The result, another minor bump to deal with -
and the drivers aren't happy.
Because nothing can be planned out because it's not planned works,
there's been another crash in front of our closure.
There's adequate signage and cones out to filter traffic out...
With his warning lights flashing
and the cordon as long as he can make it,
Peter has done everything he possibly can.
It appears this van's been travelling down
on the southbound carriageway towards our closure.
Just prior to the closure,
the van slowed down, and for whatever reason,
the car behind hasn't, and it's bumped the back of the van.
So it's a minor collision.
Nobody's injured. The drivers will just have to exchange details now.
Further up the road, Misha's car is finally being picked up -
and she's left cursing her luck.
You can't make some days up, can you?
As awful as it sounds, it's only a piece of metal.
At least that can be fixed. As long as you're all right, you know what I mean?
For Peter and Scott, a seemingly simple job
has turned into something much more complicated.
The driver of the Porsche was the one who was upset,
even though he was the one who drove straight into the back of the van.
I mean, what he was trying to say is, why didn't we take our closure
right back to the prior roundabout,
which was approximately a quarter of a mile away?
So I did explain to him that due to the size of our vehicle,
we don't carry enough equipment to put a closure on going so far back.
Sometimes, credit's hard to come by.
At least for Peter and Scott, they're ready to grab a bite to eat
at the end of what's been a hectic shift.
And more than 150 miles south near Grantham,
feeding many of the thousands of travellers and truckers
who use the road every day
is the A1 Stadium Diner.
It's 6.30 in the morning and the catering team are clocking on for
another busy breakfast shift.
But along with the usual lumbering juggernauts,
owner Albert's getting his forecourt ready for some special guests with a
taste for speed.
About ten Lamborghinis coming up for breakfast.
So I'm just putting the signs there
so they can park in front of the caff.
I think they're touring Lincolnshire today and then I believe they're
going to an airfield to do a bit of driving around bollards
and everything like that.
I think I'm a bit too old to get in and out of a Lamborghini, nowadays.
They're a younger man's car, or probably somebody that's a lot
slimmer than me, anyway, to get in and out of.
Albert's keen to give these supercar drivers a speedy service.
How are we doing?
So it's all hands to the pump - or, in Emma's case,
the industrial tin opener.
I'm just preparing the tomatoes.
We do this every day.
We have to do eight tomatoes,
eight beans and we normally do a few extra beans,
because we get through them quite a lot in the afternoon.
You'd be surprised how much we get through.
Most of these will be gone, at latest, tomorrow morning.
So, again, one of us will be out here doing it again.
While Emma's up to her elbows in tomatoes...
..the hungry petrol heads are pulling in for their pit stop.
With almost £2 million worth of Huracans and Aventadors
cruising onto the forecourt, it's quite a sight for Albert.
First time we've had ten Lamborghinis.
Although the lorry drivers probably won't be too happy
if they have to queue up for their breakfast!
Inside, the griddle's already stacked.
Come on in, lads.
And, dressed in her Sunday best,
Margaret's on hand to make sure her VIP customers get a proper feed.
But with a dizzying array of meals on offer,
the drivers seem spoilt for choice.
You've got to eat, boys, because I want to save up
for one of these cars. So you have to spend your money.
After the hard sell,
these trucker-sized breakfasts are soon flying out.
But Margaret's more interested in wheels than meals.
I've had a few sports cars in my day, but nothing like this.
I think we could still drive one of these, couldn't we, Margaret?
I think so, yeah.
One of the guys said, "You can, you're never too old."
-Get a cushion.
Inside, the Lambo-lovers can't get enough of the food.
But even with her regulars having to wait their turn,
Margaret's not budging from her mantra.
We don't serve fast food, we serve good food as fast as we can.
That's my motto.
The breakfasts are really good today and hopefully it'll settle
everybody's stomach before we start driving very quickly.
I think it's great, but it might actually reappear
when we get on the runway!
They've had their full English, and, as they leave,
there's just room for a doughnut.
For Margaret, it's been the perfect pit stop.
-That's your bonus gone, girl.
These Lambos will soon be thundering around at some ridiculous speeds.
But up in Scotland,
another vehicle with massive horsepower isn't going anywhere.
-How are you doing, all right?
-Not bad, thank you.
Traffic officer PC Stuart Logan should have clocked off by now, but
faced with a stranded truck carrying a 35-tonne wind turbine part,
he is now heading for a late one.
Which one is it that's blown out?
-The back inner one.
-Oh, inside one there. I see that. Yeah.
It's that one that's gone.
You can see how much an effect it's having on this outer tyre,
because the tyre on the inside was blown out,
so now all the weight is now going through this one outer tyre.
The transporter was halfway through a 70-mile trip from Grangemouth to
Berwick when driver Chris Leonard realised he had a problem.
Well, I was driving up there and it were a right bang.
You can normally tell if it's you.
It goes like a gunshot going off.
So, yeah, could've done without this.
On this section of the A1, there's no hard shoulder.
Even though the load is well lit,
Stuart wants to shed more light onto the scene to divert vehicles around
the stricken lorry.
It's definitely not a job for the faint-hearted.
That's a perfect example of drivers just simply not looking where
they're going. You can see how blatantly obvious this is here.
And, yet, look at how close these cars come before they even bother
moving out in the outside lane.
But unfortunately, this is the risks that we face in dealing with
incidents on the fast road network.
Thankfully, Stewart will soon be out of harm's way.
The recovery team is on scene and Stuart's doing everything he can to
make this a quick tyre change.
I'm just giving him a hand so he can see what he's doing.
It's obviously pretty dark under there.
He needs to see, make sure the jack's lined up properly.
30 tonnes would be the complete weight of it,
so it's a fair old weight.
More than what your average trolley jack
would be able to manage, anyway.
Incredibly, this tiny hydraulic jack is soon supporting the back-end of
Then it's on with the heavyweight tyre swap.
A pneumatic wrench makes quick work of the wheel nuts,
but the hardest job of all is getting the new tyre on and,
for this, only two crowbars will do.
He's nearly there, I think. It's a tough old beast, eh?
There's just no give in it. That's the problem, eh?
There we are. That's it on.
The whole thing's taken just over ten minutes and soon
they'll be on their way.
I know, aye, keep safe.
This lengthy load can now head off to become part of a 115-metre wind
turbine, which will tower above the Berwickshire countryside.
Well, that's it all away.
The other officers have come back, escorted it down the road,
so just gathered up all our equipment and we can go home.
It's a shift that's lasted from two in the afternoon to almost two in
the morning, and even for an A1 patrol officer,
it's been a long day.
Thankfully, Nicole's boyfriend came to the rescue
and she's hoping she'll never get stranded on the A1 again.
And Margaret's still hoping that bacon and eggs will one day
pay for her very own sports car.