Episode 14 A1: Britain's Longest Road


Episode 14

Documentary series following the people who work on the A1. Emergency services fight to cut a woman free from her car after a rush-hour crash.


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Transcript


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The A1 - Britain's longest road.

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Stretching almost 400 miles from the City of London

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to the heart of the Scottish capital.

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Connecting two nations and passing through 18 counties.

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It's an unrivalled highway

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used by hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day.

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We're going southbound down the A1 on the northbound carriageway.

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But not all journeys go to plan.

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TYRES SCREECH, THUD

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I thought, "I'm going to lose my life."

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Cars are coming close. It is the dangerous place to be.

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Lives can hang in the balance.

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The rear end of that vehicle, it's unrecognisable.

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This is actually the bodywork of the car.

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24 hours a day...

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It's not a safe place here.

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..there's a team of people who keep us safe from harm.

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The police...

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..response teams...

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We don't know if they've got the road closed,

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we don't know what happened.

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..and traffic officers.

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Keep going.

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Keeping Britain's most iconic road...

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-Get out!

-..on the move.

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CAR HORN BLARES

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Substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.

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The A1, the monster that it is, will start to return to normal.

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Coming up -

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the fight to cut a woman free from her car...

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Don't panic, darling.

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..without causing her further injury.

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Keep your head as still as possible.

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A motorist accused of drink-driving...

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Have you had any alcohol in the last 20 minutes?

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..is left high and dry...

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There's a high probability that his alcohol level is going up.

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..and monster machines on the march down the Great North Road.

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Travelling at 50mph, the wind will just get

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under them and blow them up.

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Of the 10,000 incidents tackled by Highways England traffic officers

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on the A1 every year, one in five is an accident.

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One of the busiest parts of the road is a two-lane stretch

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between Doncaster and Ferrybridge.

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It's 7.40 on a Friday evening...

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..and Paul Day and Rob Larkin

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are responding to a call about an incident -

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but so far, they've few details to go on.

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The nature of the job is not known yet,

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but the cameras can see hazard lights,

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traffic's moving very slowly

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and indicating round an incident,

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so at the minute we're just going in blind, really.

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With very little information and no idea how serious the call is,

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Paul and Rob need to investigate quickly.

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It could be anything, this, from a medical emergency...

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-Could be just a flat tyre.

-It could be just a flat tyre.

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It could be anything minor from something just broken down

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to somebody being run over, for instance.

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As they get closer,

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the build-up of traffic suggests there's a serious incident.

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This is now an emergency.

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Get out t'way.

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And more information comes through about what lies ahead...

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Three-vehicle RTC reported.

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Ambulance en route.

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Rob and Paul are the first emergency team to arrive.

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It's a three-car pile-up.

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A woman who was driving one of the cars

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has what could be a serious injury.

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26-year-old female, conscious and breathing, complaining of neck pain.

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I'm trying to keep her head very still.

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Paul's taking no chances

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and immediately immobilises the woman's neck.

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He must keep her as still as possible until the medics arrive.

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Still no pain? Not much pain?

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INDISTINCT REPLY

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Say again?

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Still experiencing pain.

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I think there was a queue of vehicles

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in front of me which was slowing down.

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As I was slowing down I just heard a bang from the back of my car,

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and my wife just shouted...

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"Oh, we've been hit."

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Looked like there was a pile-up of vehicles behind me.

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Then I realised that the lady right behind me,

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she was in great pain and holding her neck.

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While Paul attends to the injured driver,

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Rob needs to protect everyone at the scene.

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It's now an agonising wait for other emergency services to arrive.

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I've got a lane two closure out, so the scene is protected.

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From first impression, it looks like somebody's slowed down

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and they've all bumped into each other.

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With a potential serious spinal injury on his hands,

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Paul knows it may be necessary to cut the lady out of the vehicle.

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The fire brigade are en route, so...

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If they're needed. Hopefully they won't be.

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They might put a collar on

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and then you might be a bit better to get out yourself, OK?

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For someone on the scene, though,

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this whole process is taking too long.

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Who's called a taxi?

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Incredibly, one of the passengers has rung for a cab,

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as she doesn't want to be late for work.

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Oh, my God. Call a taxi to a bloomin' accident scene.

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Thankfully, minutes later,

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the paramedics arrive and begin to urgently assess the injured woman.

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I want you to keep your head as still as you can, OK?

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First of all, the pain was in the middle of her neck.

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It's now moved,

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which is why I took the decision to immobilise her C spine.

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She's always been conscious and talking, but, yeah...

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It's looking a little bit more dramatic than it first seemed.

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With the Fire Service arriving,

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there are now a dozen emergency service personnel on the scene

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and a busy lane of Friday night traffic still thundering past.

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Do you want us to stop that traffic?

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Rob and Paul have got to close

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the whole of the northbound carriageway of the A1

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while the team gets to work.

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With the woman in considerable pain,

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they need to rescue her as soon as possible.

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But the big question is - how?

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More than 200 miles north near Edinburgh,

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it's the job of Police Scotland officers to patrol

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a very different section of the A1.

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Just outside Tranent,

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PCs Stewart Logan and Mike Nash

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have spotted a driver who's causing concern.

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Our attention was drawn just to this car that we've overtaken.

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It was going awful slow.

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And we've passed it, the driver is not wearing his seat belt

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so we're going to get him in this lay-by here.

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Hello, sir.

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The reason we've stopped you today is, when we overtook you,

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you weren't wearing your seat belt, OK?

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I wonder why that was.

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You're driving on a 70mph road with no seat belt on.

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It's not very good, OK? Do you have your licence with you today, sir?

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Stewart runs checks on the vehicle,

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but has his suspicions about the driver.

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I can't quite deduce if the smell, if it's an alcohol smell

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or something other in the car,

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so we'll do a breath test on him

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just now, that'll determine whether it is that or not.

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Have you had any alcohol in the last 20 minutes?

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OK, I'll check what time we stopped you and go from there.

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It's important in these circumstances that we confirm

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when the person has last consumed alcohol,

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because you have an illegal arrest, essentially,

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if you breath-test a person too early.

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He's had two pints.

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In Scotland, two pints will put

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the average Joe Public over the limit.

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My feeling is that, eh,

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I think he's going to fail.

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Time to see if Stewart's prediction is right...

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You blow into it until I tell you to stop.

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You don't need to blow your socks off.

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Just a nice, steady breath, OK?

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When you're ready. Keep going, keep going, keep going.

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Stop - that's grand.

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..but the result is surprising.

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You are absolutely on the nail.

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Basically, one microgram more and you would be arrested.

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OK? The danger you have, sir,

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is that if you've only had alcohol in the last 20 minutes or so,

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your alcohol level may be increasing within your body.

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It means Stewart wants to try and keep the driver off the road

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for the next few hours.

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We can't legally stop him driving because he theoretically

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hasn't committed the offence yet.

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However, given how recently he's consumed alcohol,

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there's a high probability that his alcohol level is going up.

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We have advised him that it would be strongly recommended

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that he doesn't drive any longer for a period of time.

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With the driver compliant,

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Stewart gets him and his car off the A1 to the nearest town.

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It's over to you. You make the judgment call

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when you feel that you are in a better state,

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but I would certainly give it at least a couple of hours

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before you take to the wheel again.

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OK? That's you, all right? All the best. Take care. Bye-bye.

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For the driver, it's been a close shave.

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He was doing approximately 40mph in a 70mph limit,

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which isn't an offence, but it just draws attention to you.

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We were right with our suspicion.

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He was just lucky enough,

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very, very lucky, that he didn't fail the roadside.

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As a 400-mile super highway linking

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the capitals of Edinburgh and London,

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the A1 carries hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day,

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from mobile homes to boats and wind turbines.

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The road is a vital artery to ferry loads of all shapes and sizes

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up and down the country.

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In Nottinghamshire, another monster mission is about to get under way.

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More than 20 huge farm machines are being transported down the A1

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to the country's top show for agricultural equipment.

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It's a journey which has been a whole year in the planning.

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-Large square baler, ready to go.

-Yeah, ready to go.

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And even for the team at one of

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the world's largest farm machinery companies,

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it's a gigantic challenge.

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Coordinating the operation is Nicky McKenzie.

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Our plan for today is to have 11 loads.

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So we've got six trucks that will be going back and forth up the A1.

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With 40,000 farmers from all over the world expected at the show,

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every machine needs to look its best.

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For marketing manager Chris Wiltshire,

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it's a great opportunity to showcase their whole fleet.

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We take everything from our small tractors,

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with a starting price of around the £40,000 mark,

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all the way through to our largest combines

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that can be anything up to £400,000.

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The first to be loaded onto the six trucks are the big hitters.

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These beasts will be the centrepiece of the display,

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so it's vital they arrive at the showground by lunchtime

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so they can be manoeuvred into place...

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It's really time-critical

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to ensure that we get our machines in the right order

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so we can start building our stand in the right order.

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Bit more.

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..and already, it looks like today's weather could be a problem.

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If there's a lot of crosswind,

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the guys will just have to make sure that the chains are really secure

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and just double-check everything.

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If it gets too windy, sometimes they can't travel,

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because it's not safe.

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Dave Shipman, who will be leading the first convoy,

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needs to make sure everything is securely strapped down.

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The sort of things like panels on

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the side of balers, combine side panels.

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Obviously we're travelling at 50mph,

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the wind will just get under them and blow them up.

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It's just a case of making sure everything's really battened down.

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At nearly four metres wide in places,

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even loading these agricultural monsters is precarious.

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This one actually overhangs quite a bit, the tyres overhang the trailer.

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Even for this experienced team, it's going to be a big challenge.

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No hiccups. The machines are all good to go.

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I don't know what it's going to be like down the other end.

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It can be absolute chaos, but we won't know until we get there.

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Dave and his six low-loaders are finally heading to Peterborough,

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and the A1 is about to play host to this heavyweight convoy.

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Going to go east on the A52 to the A1.

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Join the A1 down to the Peterborough showground.

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They're on a tight schedule,

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so Dave knows everything needs to go without a hitch.

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The guys from John Deere have put a bit of pressure on us

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to get them down there. They're waiting down there for us.

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They need to get these machines into the marquee

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and get the marquee built up and finished around the machines.

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And Dave's only half an hour into the journey when there's an issue.

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Erm, I don't know if some of the guys have got a problem,

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but they're not behind me at the moment.

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I don't know how far they are behind me.

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He's about to hit the A1, but seems to have lost the rest of the convoy.

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I don't know where the guys have got to.

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Are you guys coming?

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A row of giant farm machines is hardly a needle in a haystack.

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Mark? Ryan? Anybody? Can you hear me?

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But if Dave doesn't find them soon,

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his tight schedule will be in trouble.

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I've no idea where they are.

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More than 60 miles north,

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the A1 is in gridlock, and the emergency services

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are dealing with a much more serious crisis.

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Traffic officers Paul Day and Rob Larkin

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are still sorting out a multi-car pile-up

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involving a woman with a potentially serious spinal injury.

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-Do you want some more lights or are you all right?

-Fine.

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They've been forced to shut the whole of the northbound carriageway

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while they work out how to free her.

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As you can see, there's a lot of equipment, a lot of people,

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which is why traffic is stopped behind us.

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That gives a big, safe working area for everybody.

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The injured woman has now been immobile in her car

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for over an hour.

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It's imperative they make a decision on how to move her.

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The lady is now having her C spine immobilised by the paramedic,

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and because of the way the injury has presented,

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the fire brigade are going to have to extract her with the roof off.

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Neck pain can be an indicator of life-changing injuries,

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so medics want the woman to be lifted on a spinal board.

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Don't panic, darling. Just keep your head as still as possible.

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After the windscreen is out,

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they use the jaws of life to remove the roof.

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Lots of noise. Don't worry.

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The ambulance is just here.

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With the roof finally off,

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it takes six firefighters and five paramedics

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to safely move the casualty

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from her car and into the waiting ambulance.

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Just letting you know an update.

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The casualty is now out of the vehicle

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and the fire brigade are packing away.

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While the teams have been working to free the driver,

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miles of static traffic has been building.

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So, as the ambulance rushes to a nearby hospital,

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the pressure is now on to get the carriageway clear

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and everything moving again.

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It's an inconvenience to t'public, that's just a given.

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You can't do anything about that.

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It's been slightly bigger than we expected at first,

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so we've had to stop it for a lot longer than we first thought.

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Hopefully it shouldn't be too much longer.

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-As the Fire Service depart...

-Got it?

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..Rob and Paul put the pieces of the stranded car back together

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so it can be taken away.

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Happy there? Bit of T-Cut, job's a good'un.

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Which leaves one final job for the traffic officers...

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-Right, ready.

-..reopening the A1 as safely as possible.

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We run a nice, slow rolling road block.

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It gives the traffic time to build up steadily,

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so traffic doesn't come wandering up behind you and cause another one.

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Nearly two hours after they were the first to arrive,

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Rob and Paul are the last to leave the scene,

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but it will be a lot longer before the tailbacks clear behind them.

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Nearly 200,000 people are killed or injured in accidents

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on Britain's roads every year.

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Failing to look properly and loss of control

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are the biggest causes of collisions -

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but bad weather and poor visibility

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can also be a big factor.

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One area where problems can occur is a two-lane section

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of the A1 near Edinburgh.

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PCs Stewart Logan and Mike Nash...

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Yeah, roger, acknowledged, thank you.

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..are patrolling one of the many unlit stretches of the road...

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and know that, in bad weather, the risk of an accident can grow.

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On a slip road of the A1, they spot what looks like an abandoned car...

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Yeah, we've just come across that vehicle now.

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..and it's dangerously close to the main carriageway.

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The danger that it's in is that it's off the main carriageway,

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away from the curb sightline.

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But it's on a completely unlit part of the road.

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Obviously vehicles aren't going to be looking for it.

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It's in the middle of a reservation, as well.

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Vehicles coming from this way, vehicles coming from that way...

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They're not going to be looking here,

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right in the centre of the road.

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Could you give me details of the owner of the vehicle, please?

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Mike quickly finds out that the car has broken down

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and that the owner has called for roadside assistance.

0:20:040:20:07

The owner for this has phoned in at 5.10pm

0:20:070:20:10

to say that he was arranging his recovery.

0:20:100:20:13

So that was 40 minutes ago now,

0:20:130:20:16

but that's at the point that he's phoned in.

0:20:160:20:18

Who's to say how long the car has actually been sat here?

0:20:180:20:21

You can't see the car and it's just not a safe place

0:20:210:20:25

for it to be left at all.

0:20:250:20:28

We can't leave it. If our lights weren't on this now,

0:20:310:20:35

people wouldn't necessarily see it, may make a mistake.

0:20:350:20:38

People just end up clattering into the back of it.

0:20:380:20:42

That's two tonnes of metal sitting there.

0:20:420:20:44

That's somebody ploughing into that. It never ends well.

0:20:440:20:48

You know, especially on the A1. It's 70mph here.

0:20:480:20:52

People could be travelling at 70.

0:20:520:20:54

It's just going to cause no end of devastation.

0:20:540:20:58

Although no crime has been committed,

0:20:580:21:00

Mike and Stewart decide that the car needs to be moved immediately.

0:21:000:21:03

We've invoked police powers

0:21:030:21:05

and we're going to get the vehicle lifted for causing

0:21:050:21:09

an obstruction/danger to other road users.

0:21:090:21:12

You leave your hazards on, or you leave some sort of light on,

0:21:160:21:19

but for some unknown reason, that's been left completely in the dark,

0:21:190:21:23

locked up, and somebody has walked away from that.

0:21:230:21:26

You just think, "That's crazy."

0:21:260:21:28

It's taken nearly 30 minutes to arrange for the abandoned car

0:21:280:21:31

to be removed.

0:21:310:21:33

For the officers, it's been all about keeping the A1 safe.

0:21:350:21:39

The driver may be a bit annoyed that we've moved it.

0:21:410:21:44

He may be a bit annoyed at having

0:21:440:21:46

to go out of his way to go and get the vehicle collected

0:21:460:21:49

from a recovery yard, but to be honest with you,

0:21:490:21:52

I don't really care.

0:21:520:21:54

The fact is that's off the road

0:21:540:21:56

and that vehicle is now not causing a hazard to other road users.

0:21:560:21:59

More than 270 miles south, just off

0:22:030:22:06

the A1 in Nottinghamshire,

0:22:060:22:08

another vehicle is

0:22:080:22:09

stuck on the side of the road.

0:22:090:22:11

Mark? Ryan? Anybody? Can you hear me?

0:22:180:22:21

Dave Shipman has lost his convoy of five trucks which are

0:22:210:22:25

ferrying huge farm machines to a major agricultural show.

0:22:250:22:29

I'm going to have to ring, I think.

0:22:290:22:30

No-one's on the radio, so he tries the phone.

0:22:300:22:33

You're on your way, are you?

0:22:360:22:37

OK.

0:22:390:22:40

OK. No worries, then.

0:22:410:22:43

Keep coming, then, and I'll make my way, yeah?

0:22:430:22:45

Finally, the convoy is reunited.

0:22:510:22:54

The low-loaders and their giant farm machines

0:22:560:22:58

can now make their way south down the motorway.

0:22:580:23:01

We've just got on the A1 at Grantham.

0:23:010:23:03

It's 11.56,

0:23:030:23:06

and I can see all the trucks in the mirror.

0:23:060:23:08

The convoy must be at the showground

0:23:080:23:10

by lunchtime to get the vehicles onto their stand,

0:23:100:23:12

and high winds are slowing them down.

0:23:120:23:16

Yeah, the wind is getting hold of us a little bit now.

0:23:160:23:19

These boys in the other trucks are obviously feeling OK,

0:23:210:23:25

but I'm just sticking to 50mph.

0:23:250:23:27

You can feel it starting to buffet you about a little bit.

0:23:270:23:30

Six low-loaders in convoy run nearly 300 metres,

0:23:320:23:35

which can cause traffic chaos,

0:23:350:23:39

but Dave and his team try and make it easy

0:23:390:23:42

for fellow drivers to get past.

0:23:420:23:44

It's mainly lorries trying to overtake other lorries.

0:23:470:23:50

And if you stay... If you're in convoy, stick to about 50mph,

0:23:500:23:53

the lorries can overtake you quite quickly,

0:23:530:23:57

which doesn't then affect the cars.

0:23:570:23:59

You will get two drivers that are pretty stubborn

0:23:590:24:02

and sit at the side of each other,

0:24:020:24:05

but it just causes chaos behind.

0:24:050:24:07

Despite a few hiccups, the convoy has made it.

0:24:090:24:13

This is it. We're here.

0:24:130:24:15

They arrive at the East of England Showground just in time.

0:24:160:24:20

No chance for a coffee break, though.

0:24:200:24:21

They need to unload the vehicles and get them in place,

0:24:240:24:30

but these titans need careful handling.

0:24:300:24:34

You just have to have two people...guiding you.

0:24:340:24:39

With all the machinery safely unloaded, Dave's work is done.

0:24:450:24:49

Now it's down to the John Deere team to get them into position.

0:24:510:24:55

The first one to go in would be the S-Series Combine,

0:24:580:25:00

so our biggest combine.

0:25:000:25:02

We'll get that in place and get

0:25:020:25:04

the line right on the combine, and then the other machines

0:25:040:25:06

will just match in in that same position as well,

0:25:060:25:09

so it all looks good.

0:25:090:25:10

Weighing in at more than 20 tonnes, with 38-inch tyres,

0:25:110:25:16

this mammoth could do serious damage to the grass,

0:25:160:25:19

so the team need to lay the way.

0:25:190:25:21

Everywhere the combine goes,

0:25:210:25:23

we have to put the boards underneath the wheels

0:25:230:25:26

just so that we spread the weight out.

0:25:260:25:29

REVERSING ALARM BEEPS

0:25:290:25:30

On the show day, we want to make it look like

0:25:300:25:32

we've just dropped the combine in place.

0:25:320:25:34

After two hours of painstaking manoeuvring,

0:25:390:25:42

the first three machines are in place.

0:25:420:25:45

It's the opening morning of the show,

0:25:550:25:58

and the completed John Deere stand

0:25:580:26:00

is at the heart of the showground...

0:26:000:26:03

with all 23 vehicles in position.

0:26:030:26:07

40,000 people are expected over the next two days

0:26:070:26:10

to view products from nearly 900 exhibitors.

0:26:100:26:14

Becca, can you just fit those into the 7310? Thanks.

0:26:140:26:17

And Chris is hoping at least some of them are in the market

0:26:170:26:21

for some new machinery.

0:26:210:26:23

Maybe we get somebody looking to purchase, whether it be a tractor,

0:26:230:26:28

combine or sprayer, and we can start that sales process today.

0:26:280:26:33

There's certainly been plenty of interest,

0:26:330:26:36

and with a steady stream of visitors,

0:26:360:26:38

it looks like the epic effort has all been worthwhile.

0:26:380:26:42

Nearly 90 miles north, on the A1

0:26:480:26:50

near Doncaster in south Yorkshire,

0:26:500:26:52

traffic officers Paul Day

0:26:520:26:54

and Rob Larkin are back on patrol.

0:26:540:26:56

And it's not long before they spot

0:26:590:27:01

some stranded travellers who look like

0:27:010:27:03

they could be in need of help.

0:27:030:27:05

Bus.

0:27:050:27:07

One-Three, seen from the opposite carriageway.

0:27:080:27:10

We've got a broken-down double-decker bus

0:27:100:27:12

-on the hard shoulder.

-It's got kids on and all.

0:27:120:27:14

We believe there's passengers on it.

0:27:140:27:16

37-38 on the Alpha-A1-M, over.

0:27:160:27:19

The hard shoulder's a notoriously dangerous place to be,

0:27:210:27:24

and if there are children on board,

0:27:240:27:26

Paul and Rob need to get them off the road quickly.

0:27:260:27:30

Within minutes of looping back,

0:27:320:27:34

they're at the stranded double-decker...

0:27:340:27:36

..and their concerns are confirmed.

0:27:380:27:41

Driver?

0:27:440:27:45

What have we got? How many kids have you got on?

0:27:450:27:48

With over 40 five and six-year-olds on the bus and traffic thundering up

0:27:540:27:59

behind at 70mph, the priority is to get them to safety,

0:27:590:28:05

but moving the kids off the bus isn't an option.

0:28:050:28:08

There's nowhere to corral them here, just up the banking,

0:28:090:28:12

so it's best to leave them on.

0:28:120:28:14

What we're going to do, put a bit of traffic management out

0:28:140:28:17

down the hard shoulder and just make us a bit more visible

0:28:170:28:21

to the travelling public.

0:28:210:28:22

While Rob closes the hard shoulder behind the bus,

0:28:240:28:27

Paul has another idea to protect the children.

0:28:270:28:30

Have you got any spare seats?

0:28:300:28:31

Right, can you move the kids from the back further forward

0:28:330:28:36

just in case somebody runs into the back of the bus?

0:28:360:28:38

The kids are as safe as Paul can make them for now,

0:28:390:28:42

but it's not the end to the school trip anyone was expecting.

0:28:420:28:46

We've been to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and the bus has now broken down

0:28:470:28:51

and we're stuck on the A1 with some

0:28:510:28:54

-very agitated, hyperactive children.

-Yes.

0:28:540:28:58

Where has everybody been today?

0:28:580:29:00

-KIDS: Wildlife park!

-Wildlife park.

0:29:010:29:02

And what sort of animals were we seeing at the wildlife park?

0:29:020:29:05

-Lions!

-Lions? What noise does a lion make?

0:29:050:29:08

KIDS: Rarrrr!

0:29:080:29:10

Wow, that's loud.

0:29:100:29:13

They should be back in Bradford by now.

0:29:130:29:15

Instead, they're still more than 35 miles away.

0:29:150:29:19

-We've been stuck about...

-About 40 minutes?

-..25 minutes now.

0:29:190:29:22

-No, longer, love.

-Longer.

0:29:220:29:25

Who saw two meerkats?

0:29:250:29:27

Did you compare them?

0:29:270:29:29

No? Nobody would have got that one.

0:29:290:29:30

-WOMAN LAUGHING:

-I did!

-You did?

0:29:300:29:32

But at least the hard shoulder closure seems to be working.

0:29:330:29:37

What you'll see is a lot of them will move across from the lane

0:29:370:29:41

that they're in, into the second lane, to create a space,

0:29:410:29:46

which is what we're trying to achieve.

0:29:460:29:48

To everyone's relief, the replacement double-decker arrives.

0:29:480:29:52

But now Paul needs to get 46 excited kids

0:29:540:29:56

from one bus to another...

0:29:560:29:59

Come on.

0:29:590:30:00

..just a few feet from fast-moving traffic.

0:30:000:30:03

WHISTLE BLOWS

0:30:030:30:05

Right, REALLY sensibly.

0:30:050:30:07

Keep following. Thank you.

0:30:070:30:08

Bye. See you.

0:30:120:30:14

See you. Ta-ra. Bye. See you.

0:30:140:30:18

With the kids all safely on board, all they need is the driver.

0:30:190:30:23

They're all on, driver, you can go when you're ready.

0:30:230:30:25

-See you, kids. Have a good day!

-Thank you, bye!

0:30:270:30:31

-Cheers, boss.

-And they're finally on their way.

0:30:310:30:34

But with a stranded bus still to deal with

0:30:380:30:40

and rush hour fast approaching,

0:30:400:30:42

this job is far from over for Paul and Rob.

0:30:420:30:45

With nearly 2,500 pieces of debris collected from the A1 every year,

0:30:470:30:52

keeping the roads safe and clear

0:30:520:30:54

is a key priority for the teams who watch over it.

0:30:540:30:57

Near Morpeth in Northumberland,

0:30:590:31:01

the police are targeting the problem.

0:31:010:31:03

Monday morning, weekend's over.

0:31:030:31:05

PC Darren Lant is on the lookout for any vehicles

0:31:050:31:09

with dangerously unsecured loads

0:31:090:31:11

which could end up causing a serious accident.

0:31:110:31:14

Every time we see a heavy goods vehicle,

0:31:140:31:16

I'll have a look at it and see if the load is secure.

0:31:160:31:18

Imagine one of them coming off.

0:31:180:31:20

They're probably a half a tonne tyre, something like that.

0:31:200:31:22

And they're all strapped down, nice and secure.

0:31:220:31:24

Every time we'll make sure whatever load it's carrying is safe.

0:31:240:31:27

And stop it if we need to.

0:31:270:31:29

But a few miles up the road,

0:31:310:31:33

another driver's careless packing

0:31:330:31:35

is leaving other A1 motorists' lives at risk.

0:31:350:31:39

SIREN WAILS

0:31:390:31:41

There's a van gone past,

0:31:430:31:46

but his back doors are wide open and he's only got a bit of rope or tape

0:31:460:31:51

or something over the doors.

0:31:510:31:53

Once Darren can get a proper look,

0:31:540:31:56

that's not the only thing wrong here.

0:31:560:31:59

So the first thing - no numberplate.

0:31:590:32:01

I cannot do a check on it because the numberplate

0:32:020:32:04

is probably on the door. You know, he's got a load,

0:32:040:32:07

a load of stuff in there that's going to bounce all over the place.

0:32:070:32:10

A large metal frame sticking out is why the doors have been wedged open.

0:32:110:32:15

That appears to be secured tightly,

0:32:150:32:17

but everything else loose in the back is a potential hazard.

0:32:170:32:22

You've got boxes of tools, you've got bags of tools,

0:32:220:32:25

you've got all sorts lying around in there which clearly are insecure.

0:32:250:32:29

Someone driving along, they're doing 50, 60mph

0:32:300:32:33

behind this guy and then a cordless drill bounces out

0:32:330:32:37

the back of the truck and goes through the windscreen.

0:32:370:32:39

It's going to cause serious injury there,

0:32:390:32:41

it's going to cause a massive crash.

0:32:410:32:43

Some may say it's an exaggeration that it could cause a fatality,

0:32:430:32:46

but I don't see the exaggeration at all.

0:32:460:32:48

We'll get him stopped and we'll have a chat with him

0:32:500:32:53

and decide what we're going to do with the load.

0:32:530:32:55

For police officers like Darren,

0:33:000:33:02

driving with an unsecured load is a serious offence,

0:33:020:33:05

and motorists caught in the act can face an immediate fine

0:33:050:33:09

and points on their licence.

0:33:090:33:12

All right? How are you doing?

0:33:120:33:14

Is it your van, or a company van, or work's van or what?

0:33:140:33:16

-Work van.

-Come and have a chat with us for two seconds,

0:33:160:33:18

we'll have... I need to do a sequence as to why I've stopped you.

0:33:180:33:21

-Who loaded this?

-Me.

0:33:210:33:23

You did. It's not the right load for this van, like, is it?

0:33:230:33:26

Cannot see your numberplate, where's your numberplate?

0:33:270:33:30

I'm assuming it's on this side of the door, is it?

0:33:300:33:32

INDISTINCT REPLY

0:33:320:33:33

You've got metal rods, you've got boxes...

0:33:330:33:34

all sorts, tools lying all over the place.

0:33:340:33:37

The driver is cautioned, fined £100,

0:33:390:33:42

and will receive three points on his licence.

0:33:420:33:45

Had you put them in the front,

0:33:450:33:46

passenger's footwell or something - fine, not a problem,

0:33:460:33:49

but you cannot be driving up the A1 with tools loose like that

0:33:490:33:52

in the back of there. If you've got to brake for some reason,

0:33:520:33:54

all that is going to come out. Whether you agree with it or not,

0:33:540:33:57

-but do you understand what I'm saying?

-Yeah.

-OK.

0:33:570:34:00

With just a few miles left to go on his journey,

0:34:000:34:03

Darren is prepared to let him continue

0:34:030:34:06

if he can stash the dangerous items inside.

0:34:060:34:09

I know you cannot put the rods or anything in there,

0:34:100:34:12

but the stuff that's going to bounce around...

0:34:120:34:15

I can tie the rods up.

0:34:150:34:16

Yeah, if you can do that, that would be great.

0:34:160:34:18

It's all secured up now, is it?

0:34:270:34:28

-Aye, it's better.

-Excellent, that's great.

0:34:280:34:30

I'll follow you up round and then just make sure nowt bounces out.

0:34:300:34:33

Right, thank you.

0:34:330:34:34

It's not ideal, but I'm not going to prohibit him

0:34:360:34:39

from moving any further. He's done the best he can now,

0:34:390:34:42

certainly doesn't look like anything's going to fall out now,

0:34:420:34:45

but prior to stopping him,

0:34:450:34:46

that tool box was about to fall out, I think.

0:34:460:34:48

It certainly wouldn't have taken much longer.

0:34:480:34:51

After escorting the van to the next junction,

0:34:510:34:54

Darren is convinced he has

0:34:540:34:56

eliminated another potential danger from the A1.

0:34:560:35:00

Him safely off the A1 now,

0:35:000:35:01

there's less risk of any major injuries on the side roads.

0:35:010:35:04

He'll get the paperwork through the post for it.

0:35:040:35:07

But Darren is still on the lookout

0:35:070:35:09

for more vehicles which pose a risk to other motorists.

0:35:090:35:12

Nearly 150 miles south,

0:35:140:35:16

near Doncaster...

0:35:160:35:18

Paul Day and Rob Larkin are still dealing with a double-decker

0:35:180:35:22

that's broken down.

0:35:220:35:23

With the 46 schoolchildren who were on board now safely away,

0:35:250:35:29

their attention turns to moving the bus.

0:35:290:35:33

Yeah, the difficult bit is done.

0:35:330:35:34

They were really good kids, I was impressed.

0:35:340:35:37

The bus has been leaking water.

0:35:370:35:40

To get it started, they need to refill it.

0:35:400:35:42

He's got to get water in from that side.

0:35:420:35:45

But with the radiator cap just inches from fast-moving traffic,

0:35:460:35:50

it's too risky.

0:35:500:35:51

Just give us one minute.

0:35:510:35:52

Collisions like this, recorded on a driver's dash cam,

0:35:540:35:59

are all too common.

0:35:590:36:00

On average, every week someone is killed or seriously injured

0:36:000:36:03

on the hard shoulder, so Paul and Rob need to protect the mechanic.

0:36:030:36:08

Rob's gone back, he's called for signs and signals

0:36:080:36:11

to put a lane-one closure on.

0:36:110:36:13

There's no way he'll be able to get that in safely,

0:36:130:36:15

not with this traffic anyway.

0:36:150:36:17

Once Rob has safely coned off the area, the mechanics get to work.

0:36:170:36:22

But it's not looking good. The water is draining straight out.

0:36:220:36:26

The bus will have to be moved to be looked at properly,

0:36:260:36:29

so Paul calls for backup.

0:36:290:36:31

One-Three, yeah, can you get me an ETA for...

0:36:310:36:34

I believe it's Yankee-One-Two, to get to 37?

0:36:340:36:37

This water is not staying in the vehicle,

0:36:370:36:40

so I'm thinking we might have to rolling block.

0:36:400:36:42

The bus will struggle to join fast-moving traffic,

0:36:430:36:46

so Paul wants to create a gap for it to pull out into.

0:36:460:36:51

Using another traffic car, they can slow oncoming vehicles right down.

0:36:510:36:56

Got somebody coming to put a rolling block on.

0:36:560:36:58

So when the rolling block goes on, we'll get a gap.

0:36:580:37:01

He can then set off at his leisure, and take your time getting off.

0:37:010:37:05

But first, they need to get things moving again.

0:37:050:37:09

Now, if we've still got this lane closure up,

0:37:090:37:11

by the time he gets here,

0:37:110:37:13

he's going to be stuck in the traffic

0:37:130:37:14

and he won't create us a gap. So, if we take this off now,

0:37:140:37:19

traffic starts flowing again and it facilitates us

0:37:190:37:23

to create a gap to get this double-decker off.

0:37:230:37:27

Even with the cones gone, though,

0:37:270:37:30

drivers seem reluctant to use both lanes.

0:37:300:37:33

It's gone off, but as per usual, we're still here,

0:37:330:37:37

so they don't realise they can use it.

0:37:370:37:39

Because they see us here.

0:37:390:37:40

It's a case of, "Oh, we'll give them a wide berth",

0:37:400:37:42

which is a good thing, but we're actually waiting for these cars

0:37:420:37:45

to get clear so we can do the rolling roadblock.

0:37:450:37:48

A lot of car drivers are like sheep.

0:37:500:37:52

They will follow each other, like, they weren't using lane one,

0:37:560:38:00

as soon as the wagon driver came up lane one, that's it,

0:38:000:38:02

everybody follows him and now it's flowing freely again.

0:38:020:38:05

It's starting to free up.

0:38:060:38:08

If he just gets me the last vehicle through,

0:38:080:38:11

then we can clear it, we can run it from there on.

0:38:110:38:14

See our colleague now,

0:38:150:38:16

he's at the back of this traffic creating a rolling roadblock.

0:38:160:38:20

We can see him, he's created a gap,

0:38:200:38:22

so now we can move off with the bus.

0:38:220:38:24

Alpha, and for One-Two's benefit,

0:38:240:38:27

this vehicle has left the scene.

0:38:270:38:29

If he just keeps the block on, just till it clears.

0:38:290:38:32

Finally, nearly two hours after arriving,

0:38:330:38:37

Paul and Rob's work is done.

0:38:370:38:39

The 46 kids and their bus are all safely off the A1

0:38:390:38:42

and are on their way home.

0:38:420:38:45

Police officers on the A1 have an armoury of technology

0:38:520:38:55

on hand to help catch offenders.

0:38:550:38:59

In Northumberland, close to the town of Alnwick,

0:38:590:39:01

a suspicious vehicle has been flagged up.

0:39:010:39:04

PC Darren Lant is partway through his shift.

0:39:050:39:08

-Tango-Six.

-His onboard camera, which is linked to

0:39:090:39:13

a comprehensive automatic numberplate recognition system -

0:39:130:39:16

ANPR for short -

0:39:160:39:18

has picked up a suspect vehicle.

0:39:180:39:21

SIREN WAILS

0:39:210:39:23

We've had a vehicle that went past that has no insurance,

0:39:230:39:26

which poses a significant risk,

0:39:260:39:27

which is why we need to try and see

0:39:270:39:30

if we can find it and get him stopped

0:39:300:39:32

and check that he has insurance.

0:39:320:39:34

But the information is that he's not.

0:39:340:39:37

This may well be him.

0:39:410:39:42

Darren spots the van up ahead.

0:39:420:39:45

Yeah, this is it.

0:39:460:39:47

All right? How are we doing?

0:39:560:39:58

Is this your van, is it?

0:39:580:39:59

-No, it's me mate's.

-It's your mate's, is it?

0:39:590:40:01

-Can I see your driving licence?

-I don't have owt with us, mate.

0:40:010:40:04

-Are you insured to drive the van, are you?

-Yeah.

0:40:040:40:06

Come and have a chat with me for two seconds

0:40:060:40:07

in the back of the car and we'll get some details down.

0:40:070:40:10

We'll do a couple of checks, make sure everything is all right.

0:40:100:40:13

The driver doesn't own the van, but still claims everything is in order.

0:40:140:40:19

So I need to know which insurance you are using

0:40:190:40:22

-that allows you to drive this van.

-Halifax, mine.

0:40:220:40:24

Right. Does it allow you to drive other vehicles,

0:40:240:40:26

third-party, does it?

0:40:260:40:28

-Yeah.

-All right.

-Time for another check, and an anxious wait.

0:40:280:40:31

So the insurance on his vehicle, that expired in January, yeah?

0:40:340:40:37

Driving without insurance could mean six points on his licence

0:40:370:40:41

and a sizeable fine.

0:40:410:40:43

It's not looking good, mate, OK?

0:40:440:40:46

Your car, there's no insurance on that one, OK?

0:40:460:40:48

-That's with the Halifax insurance.

-Right.

0:40:480:40:50

Well, they're saying there's nae insurance on there,

0:40:500:40:52

and there's no insurance showing on this one,

0:40:520:40:54

so you're potentially driving with no insurance.

0:40:540:40:56

I'm going to caution you. You're not under arrest,

0:40:560:40:59

it's just something I've got to say

0:40:590:41:00

when I suspect an offence has been committed.

0:41:000:41:02

The next step is to seize the vehicle.

0:41:020:41:04

The owner will have seven working days to claim it.

0:41:040:41:07

If he doesn't, it could be sold or crushed.

0:41:070:41:10

What will happen is we'll have to take it away

0:41:100:41:12

until such times that the owner can come and prove

0:41:120:41:15

that they do own it and they have insurance for it.

0:41:150:41:18

And the driver's problems, too, are piling up.

0:41:190:41:22

He now has no van and it looks like

0:41:220:41:25

he could be dropped off 50 miles

0:41:250:41:27

from his home in Durham.

0:41:270:41:29

We won't be taking you from here to Durham, like, all right?

0:41:290:41:32

I'll let you know that straightaway,

0:41:320:41:34

we'll not be taking you to Durham.

0:41:340:41:35

We'll take you to Alnwick, the next big town,

0:41:350:41:37

and you can arrange collection from there, all right?

0:41:370:41:40

40 minutes later, the van and driver are taken

0:41:420:41:45

to nearby Alnwick by another police officer.

0:41:450:41:49

I class it as a success.

0:41:490:41:50

It's another uninsured driver off the road,

0:41:500:41:53

but it goes to prove the importance

0:41:530:41:54

and the benefit and the value of ANPR fitted to the patrol cars.

0:41:540:41:57

In Alnwick, the driver has to work out

0:42:000:42:02

how to make the 50-mile journey home,

0:42:020:42:05

but that's not Darren's problem.

0:42:050:42:08

We're not taxis. We are a very limited and very expensive resource

0:42:080:42:11

and we're needed at all times,

0:42:110:42:14

and it just doesn't justify taking a patrol car off the road

0:42:140:42:20

for any sort of unnecessary time.

0:42:200:42:22

The van was finally returned to

0:42:280:42:30

its owner after he produced proof of insurance.

0:42:300:42:33

The motorist, Ivor Bennett, was later fined a total of £810

0:42:330:42:38

and received six points on his licence

0:42:380:42:41

for driving with no insurance.

0:42:410:42:43

And after their bus broke down during their school trip,

0:42:450:42:48

all the children finally had a safe journey back home.

0:42:480:42:51

Emergency services fight to cut a woman free from her car after a rush-hour crash. Police take a motorist suspected of drink-driving off the A1. And a convoy of monster machines marches down the Great North Road.


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