Episode 12 A1: Britain's Longest Road


Episode 12

Documentary series following the people who work on the A1. Police catch a vehicle travelling nearly 30 miles per hour over the speed limit.


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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, it's an

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unrivalled highway 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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I thought I'm going to lose my life.

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Cars are coming close.

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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 whether we've got the road closed or...

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We don't know what's happened.

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..and traffic officers.

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Better keep going.

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Keeping Britain's most iconic road...

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Get out.

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..on the move.

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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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A race to get a stranded fuel tanker...

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HORN BLAST

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..away from rush-hour traffic.

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We've got 41,000 litres of diesel and petrol.

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There's a danger if someone obviously impacted with him.

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Police catch a vehicle travelling nearly 30mph

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over the speed limit.

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68.

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And an illegal motorist is caught red-handed.

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It's showing you haven't got a driving licence.

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Did I have one?

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Erm, let's see.

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As one of Britain's biggest motorways,

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the A1 carries hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day.

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And one of the busiest times of the week for crashes

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is the evening rush hour on a Friday.

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In places like Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire,

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where three lanes drop into two,

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problems can occur as commuters head home for the weekend.

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Yeah, all received. We're making our way as best we can through traffic.

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It's 7:40pm and traffic officers Paul Day and Matt Gibson

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are hurrying to the scene of a crash.

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So, we've got reports of a two-vehicle RTC,

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one vehicle's stuck in the outside lane with a small child in it.

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About eight years old, I think.

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It's more that there's a young child in it and they've stayed

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in the car that's slightly worrying.

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Because who would want to stay in a live running lane

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if they didn't have to be?

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There's a real risk of casualties,

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so it's vital Paul and Matt get there quickly.

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But traffic's blocking their way.

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The traffic's stationary on approach.

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We're going to use the hard shoulder.

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We're on the hard shoulder, running up to the incident now.

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Look for the policeman.

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-Nothing there.

-Not there?

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We need to clear some debris, anyway.

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The vehicle's badly damaged, but, thankfully,

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the couple and their eight-year-old daughter are safe.

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They've had a lucky escape.

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We were travelling in the fast lane.

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A car in the inside lane came into the car into the middle lane,

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which then swerved into me.

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The car that's caused it has driven off, erm,

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and the guy in the middle lane has obviously held his hands up

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to say that he's hit me.

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Their smashed-up vehicle is still blocking the outside lane.

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With the tailback up to five miles long and growing,

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shifting the pick-up is now their top priority.

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If you can hand-stop traffic, then we can do it without traffic

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running past us, clear this vehicle, over.

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Moving stricken vehicles can be tricky,

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and they need to close the road.

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There's quite a lot of damage to it, so what we've done is stop traffic.

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I'm just looking for a suitable place to try and get hold of it,

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to drag it.

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They are designed to smash up, yeah.

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You just have to get the best place you can get.

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Hook it up, and...

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HE GRUNTS

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..drag it off.

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But the hundreds of cars in the jam are still stuck.

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The road can't be reopened until the remaining debris is gone, too.

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Grab a brush.

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Are you all right?

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-Are you happy?

-Yeah, I'm happy, yeah.

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Right, he's happy with it, Matt.

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So, what we did there, we just made sure we were all clear

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on the carriageway before we let cars go...

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..which we've done now.

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Hotel Alpha Charlie Lima 13.

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The block is free.

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Normal talk-through can resume. Thank you to everybody else.

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Seven minutes after arriving,

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Paul and Matt have made sure commuters are moving again.

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But for driver Russell and his family,

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who have travelled up the A1 from their home in Ipswich,

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a bad day looks like it's getting a whole lot worse.

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I don't know how we're going to get home.

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The insurance company has said that they'll only recover us ten miles

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and we're obviously 200 miles away from home.

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It's not what we were hoping for.

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But, thanks to the police and traffic officers,

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the family are safe and are being ferried to a warm hotel.

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And with their pick-up finally recovered,

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it's a job well done for Paul and Matt.

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The job's a good 'un. Everybody's gone home safe.

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Little bit of damage, but that can be, er...

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..written off.

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But keeping Britain's longest road moving is a constant battle

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and its not just accidents which bring the A1 grinding to a halt.

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In any one week, mile after mile of the carriageway is subject

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to temporary speed limits because of roadworks.

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We all get frustrated by being caught up in them,

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but these A1 drivers simply think that the rules don't apply to them,

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and behaviour like this has dangerous consequences.

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Especially for the people on the other side of the cones.

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Since 2005, 16 men and women have lost their lives working on

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England's major roads and over 500 have been seriously injured.

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On the A1 near Morpeth in Northumberland,

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police are cracking down on the problem.

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Today, PC Darren Lant is monitoring vehicles as they pass through roadworks.

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I've just parked up on the on-slip here to the A1.

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There's a lot of roadworks going on and we're getting a lot

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of complaints from the staff,

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the roadwork staff that are trying to improve the area,

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of vehicles not sticking to the temporary speed limit,

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and causing a danger to those roadwork lads.

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First, Darren wants to gauge how bad the problem is.

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All I do is just point and shoot.

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And it's not long before he gets some disturbing readings

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in this 40mph zone.

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Here we go. There's a couple coming down now.

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Outside lane, white one.

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BEEP

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61.

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BMW.

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BEEP

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55.

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30 seconds of checking, there's been about five vehicles who have gone

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through between 55 and 61mph.

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So, now that I know there is a problem, I'll start looking to

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enforce it and we'll have a word with some of the drivers.

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The white Citroen.

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BEEP

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68.

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That's a massive 28mph over the limit.

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Darren must be careful.

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He is keen to stop the driver, but doesn't want to risk a chase

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that could endanger other motorists.

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68mph in a 40mph limit.

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Do a check on it, see where it's from, see if there's anything on it.

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Vehicle check, please. White Citroen.

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Yes, yes, thank you.

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Lives local, probably travels the road quite a lot.

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With the checks done, Darren starts to pull the driver over.

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I always give them a pre-warning that I'm going to stop them

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and give them a little bit of a flash of the blue light,

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let them know that's what's coming.

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They can make a nice, safe stop in the lay-by here, which is good.

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Hello, sir. How are you? Can I have a chat with you in the car,

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about two seconds, please?

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I'm going to caution you. You don't have to say anything,

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but it may harm your defence if you do not answer, when questioned,

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something you may rely on later in court and anything you do say may be given in evidence.

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You're not under arrest, that's just something that I've got to say to you. OK?

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It was actually 68mph.

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Is there any reason as to why you're doing 68mph in a 40 limit?

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OK. It does carry three points on your licence.

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Although, when they catch drivers speeding,

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police have some discretion in the way they deal with each case,

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on this occasion, the motorist was going so fast,

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Darren immediately gives him a ticket.

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That gentleman wasn't offered a place on a speed awareness course

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because he was travelling 28mph over the posted speed limit.

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It's 40mph. They know that, and doing 68 in a 40,

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it's just unacceptable.

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What we've got here on the A1,

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we've got a lot of roadworks going on, so there's a lot of hazards,

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a lot of people on the road, so it's really unsafe for them to be

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on the road when you've got vehicles travelling at high speed.

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What we're doing is, we're just making sure people are sticking

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to the speed limits, but it's not all about coming out and getting

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as many speeding tickets as we can.

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You know, we're not... That's not the be-all and end-all

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of being a traffic cop.

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Speeding motorists will be one of Darren's priorities for the rest

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of his shift, and he's sure this one won't be his last.

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Just over 20 miles away,

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one of the road-laying teams he's trying to protect is racing

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to finish its latest job.

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And they've got a revolutionary machine to help them,

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with Darren Housman manning the controls.

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When I saw the size of it, it was like, "Oh, God!" at first, but,

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yeah, really excited and, you know, ready to roll with it and get going.

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With hundreds of thousands of vehicles pounding the road every day,

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this huge, 52-tonne resurfacing machine is part of a small army

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which ensures the A1's 400 miles of tarmac is kept safe for drivers.

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What makes this revolutionary machine so special

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is that the road it's ripping up at the front is immediately being

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recycled and relayed the back.

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When there's a lot of people about,

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you've sort of got a lot to think about and a lot to, sort of, watch.

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You've got the elevator, the boys at the back of it,

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and those at the front of the machine, that kind of thing.

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It can be a bit nervous at times, but once you get on,

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you get over it.

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Today, Darren and his team are tackling a 1.25-mile section,

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and expect to complete the job three times faster

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than by using traditional methods.

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And overseeing the operation is Steve Bishop.

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This system has a number of benefits.

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The amount of waste that is going to landfill is down 70%.

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The amount of imported new stone that we need, new blacktop,

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is down 75%, so massive savings there.

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And then, also, as far as workforce is concerned,

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49% fewer man-hours to do the job,

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so we've got less exposure for our workforce to what is, admittedly,

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a not particularly nice place to have to work -

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the side of a fast dual carriageway.

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Recycling the original road stones and re-laying them

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with added bitumen in a much cooler system in one go means they can lay

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1,000 tonnes of road a day instead of just 350.

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This means they can relay both lanes anyone in a 1.25-mile section

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of road in just two and a half weeks.

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We're not in the business of disrupting drivers to make

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their lives rotten, but we do have a legal duty to maintain the road,

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and make sure it's safe for people.

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So, when we need to go in, we go in, but what we'd like to do is go in,

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hit it hard, hit it quick and get out of the way,

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so people can get back to their business.

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With the road taking a pounding 24/7,

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it's no wonder that around 50 miles of the A1

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need to be replaced every year

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and all that means Darren and his monster machine are going to be

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kept busy for a good while yet.

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If you don't mind, I'm going to have to crack on,

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cos we've got another K to do today, so we want to be up and at it.

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More than 300 miles away,

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at the southern end of the A1 in Hertfordshire,

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the evening rush hour is often the busiest time for the teams

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who keep it safe.

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Traffic officers Rob Taylor and Steve Francis are in the middle

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of their shift and they've just spotted a vehicle on a roundabout

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off the main carriageway.

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Hotel Alpha Sierra Lima 52.

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A 40-foot articulated tanker has stopped

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and is causing a serious obstruction in fast-moving traffic.

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Yeah, we've just come up against a petrol tanker,

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junction nine on the roundabout over the A1 M.

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We're just going to go round and see what the situation is.

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Clutch or brake?

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Sorry, what?

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Yeah, I'm getting a smell. Is it clutch or brake?

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-No, it's brakes on the back.

-Brakes. They're locked on, are they?

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-Yeah, got an air leak, just caused the brakes to lock on.

-OK.

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We're coming round the roundabout and see some smoke coming off

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the back axle, so we thought it be wise to pull over.

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On inspection, we've got an air leak

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and it's caused the brakes to lock on.

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But the biggest problem is the contents of the tanker.

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On this load, we've got 41,000 litres of split load

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between diesel and petrol.

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There's a real danger that the overheated brakes could catch fire.

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And with the tanker full of fuel and traffic passing close by,

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Rob fears the worst.

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If the brakes locked on, they can be known to be getting very, very hot.

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You don't want hot brakes with a petrol tanker.

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We've got to be super-cautious with it.

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It means that Rob must get a recovery vehicle out

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as quickly as possible.

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I'll need to know who's coming out,

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-find out an ETA, so we know how long it's going to be there.

-Yeah.

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But it's not looking good.

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Recovery's said to be 60-90 minutes.

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I've tried to urge them to try and see if we can get it quicker.

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It's not good. Usually, when this happens, it always happens

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in the wrong location.

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And there's already been a near miss before Rob and Steve arrived.

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Apparently, they've put their two hazard triangles out,

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one's already been hit by somebody, amazingly, so...

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You couldn't make it up.

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To make the area safe,

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Steve must put a cordon around the truck as quickly as possible,

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which will take out an entire lane.

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But the danger's not over yet.

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Everyone's going home at the moment,

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and these guys will enter the slip at speed.

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So, of course, only when they come halfway round the roundabout,

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they'll realise that there is actually something in lane one.

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We've got three lanes of traffic coming onto the roundabout

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and then two lanes have to decide where they're going

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once they see the vehicle.

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So, the two lanes have to merge into one, and, as you can see here,

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this is where the problem arises.

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With traffic jockeying for position just a few feet

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from the stricken tanker,

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the driver's words aren't filling Rob with confidence.

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When they actually go up in flames, they burn for about eight hours.

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The fire engines don't bother putting them out,

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they just let them burn and protect everything around them,

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cos you can't put it out.

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But even as the traffic lessens, the problems grow.

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HORN BLAST

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Honestly, it's frustrating to watch, because sometimes you can see

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something happening before it even happens.

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And when you see there are people not paying attention,

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you can, you know, predict something might happen.

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After the tanker has been stranded

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on the roundabout for an hour and a half,

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finally a mechanic arrives to try and fix the vehicle's brakes.

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I think the air press is obviously dropped on one wheel.

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If I can hear it's got an air leak, then I can blank it off

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and the brakes will release.

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With the tanker's brakes released...

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Good, that's good. That should have everything covered.

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..and the cones removed,

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Rob and Steve can escort the vehicle to a lay-by,

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where proper repairs can be carried out.

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It's not had too much of an impact, I'm glad to say,

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but with tankers, you can never be too careful with them.

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Nice to meet you, guys.

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I didn't want it going up in smoke.

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If that's got that hot,

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the last thing you want to do is be moving it unnecessarily,

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but it is cooled down and if the fitter's happy, then we're happy.

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If it gets the motorway open or the road open, we're even happier.

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So, the A1 is clear for now.

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But with this stretch being a major route in and out of the capital,

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it won't be long before the South Mimms Traffic Team

0:18:180:18:20

will be needed again.

0:18:200:18:21

More than 350 miles north, at Five Sisters zoo near Edinburgh,

0:18:250:18:30

two keepers are desperate for their vehicle to have

0:18:300:18:32

an incident-free journey through sub-zero temperatures.

0:18:320:18:35

It's feeding time and head reptile keeper Chris Brown is gearing up

0:18:400:18:43

for a marathon seven-hour journey down the A1

0:18:430:18:47

with some of the zoo's most dangerous creatures.

0:18:470:18:50

They've run out of space in the reptile house,

0:18:520:18:55

so six young alligators need to be moved

0:18:550:18:57

to a specialist zoo in Oxfordshire.

0:18:570:18:59

It's really becoming a safety issue, not only for ourselves,

0:19:020:19:04

but the animals as well. They can get quite excitable when it comes

0:19:040:19:07

to feeding and the risk of them injuring each other

0:19:070:19:10

is always going to be there with this number of animals

0:19:100:19:13

in that size of space, so the plan is to move them on to a larger,

0:19:130:19:16

more suitable facility.

0:19:160:19:18

Keeping six cold-blooded juveniles warm on a Scottish winter's day

0:19:190:19:23

is going to be a big challenge.

0:19:230:19:25

But the team's first battle is catching them.

0:19:280:19:30

So they need to make it snappy.

0:19:320:19:34

-Right, you ready?

-Yeah.

0:19:350:19:36

An alligator's bite is one of the most powerful in the animal kingdom,

0:19:410:19:44

so there's always a risk of serious injury.

0:19:440:19:47

Their jaws will have to be taped up for the journey.

0:19:480:19:51

That's really strong.

0:19:510:19:52

It's ridiculously strong, that tape.

0:19:520:19:54

The last one left to come out is the keeper's favourite.

0:19:570:20:00

They call him Digit,

0:20:000:20:02

because he arrived here missing a few on his front leg.

0:20:020:20:04

Yeah.

0:20:060:20:07

Oh, nae bother.

0:20:090:20:10

He's a little sweetheart.

0:20:100:20:12

Digit will join the others for a few hours' rest

0:20:160:20:19

as they're planning to leave before dawn.

0:20:190:20:21

This is where they'll be staying for the night.

0:20:210:20:23

Nice and comfortable. We've got a system here.

0:20:230:20:25

It's really nice and warm in here, so we'll just see them again at 4am.

0:20:250:20:29

The next morning, it's a very early start.

0:20:310:20:34

These creatures are used to living in temperatures topping 18 Celsius.

0:20:360:20:40

So, the biggest challenge for this journey is going to be

0:20:430:20:46

keeping the alligators warm enough.

0:20:460:20:48

Right now, it's about -6 outside...

0:20:480:20:51

..which is not ideal for an alligator.

0:20:520:20:54

These guys come from North America where most of the time,

0:20:540:20:56

they're going to be sitting in the upper 20s,

0:20:560:20:58

so their enclosure generally is kept between 25-30 degrees centigrade,

0:20:580:21:02

so we'll keep the whole van quite warm.

0:21:020:21:05

We've planned to travel down in shorts and T-shirts for that reason,

0:21:050:21:08

we're actually going to keep the van nice and toasty.

0:21:080:21:10

We do have an extra heat source for them as well in the form of,

0:21:100:21:13

actually, an electric blanket from Adrian's house.

0:21:130:21:16

That's going to be wrapped around the boxes.

0:21:160:21:18

With the boxes cut down to fit, the alligators are finally moved in.

0:21:200:21:24

Chances are, once they're in here and the boxes aren't moving,

0:21:290:21:32

they're warm, they're dark, they're going to settle right down.

0:21:320:21:36

At 6am, an hour later than planned...

0:21:380:21:41

Best be on their way.

0:21:410:21:42

..their mammoth trip south, down the A1, begins.

0:21:440:21:47

Leading this time, we're a good two hours ahead of any sort of traffic

0:21:520:21:55

-that we would get here.

-Yeah.

0:21:550:21:57

Our only real issue traffic-wise

0:21:570:21:58

is probably going to be when we hit, sort of, Newcastle way.

0:21:580:22:01

We've got the animals as comfortable as we possibly can,

0:22:030:22:06

giving ourselves a constant and consistent speed

0:22:060:22:09

as we can, all the way down.

0:22:090:22:11

Today's forecast to be the coldest of the year.

0:22:130:22:15

And just two hours into the journey,

0:22:170:22:19

the sub-zero temperatures

0:22:190:22:21

have frozen their windscreen washer nozzles,

0:22:210:22:23

forcing them to make an unscheduled stop.

0:22:230:22:25

It's just frozen over, is it?

0:22:270:22:28

I think these are just frozen over, yeah. Yeah. I know,

0:22:280:22:31

but it could be frozen all the way down, that's the problem.

0:22:310:22:34

Unable to see through the windscreen,

0:22:340:22:36

Chris and Adrian resort to using grass to clean it.

0:22:360:22:40

-Things you do, eh?

-Yep.

0:22:400:22:41

And with freezing temperatures causing such havoc...

0:22:420:22:45

..they're concerned about the cold-blooded alligators.

0:22:470:22:50

So, we're just going to check the temperatures just to see...

0:22:510:22:54

Just to get an idea of how things are going.

0:22:540:22:57

It should be over 20 degrees inside the boxes.

0:22:570:23:00

12.7!

0:23:040:23:05

10.5!

0:23:080:23:10

They still have over 350 miles to go

0:23:120:23:15

and with temperatures set to drop further,

0:23:150:23:17

they need to get back on the road with the heaters on full blast

0:23:170:23:21

to try and get the alligators warmer.

0:23:210:23:22

Snow, ice and fog affect all A1 road users,

0:23:240:23:28

but even more so if motorists are speeding.

0:23:280:23:32

North of Newcastle is a stretch of road

0:23:320:23:34

where accidents can often happen.

0:23:340:23:36

A1 patrol officer PC Darren Lant has a laser speed gun and is watching

0:23:400:23:45

for drivers exceeding the limit as the road passes Morpeth.

0:23:450:23:49

One of his most frequent stops is a man in a van,

0:23:500:23:53

which is usually white.

0:23:530:23:55

SPEED GUN BEEPS

0:23:550:23:56

And Darren's spotted one he thinks is travelling too fast.

0:23:580:24:01

White van. We might get the white van.

0:24:030:24:05

77. We'll have a chat with him.

0:24:080:24:10

77mph is over the limit for any vehicle on the A1.

0:24:120:24:16

But on this stretch, the rules are different for cars

0:24:160:24:19

than they are for small goods vehicles like this one.

0:24:190:24:22

Some drivers of Transit style vehicles, they forget,

0:24:220:24:26

or they're unaware, that the speed limit for that vehicle,

0:24:260:24:29

for that type of vehicle on a dual carriageway,

0:24:290:24:31

is only 60mph and not 70.

0:24:310:24:32

So, what I'll do is, as soon as I find a safe place,

0:24:320:24:34

I'll stop the driver and see why he was travelling at 17mph

0:24:340:24:38

over the speed limit for that type of vehicle.

0:24:380:24:41

The problem is that... Certainly for the smaller goods vehicles,

0:24:410:24:44

drivers either just decide they're going to travel above the limit

0:24:440:24:47

or they just don't know the increased stopping distance,

0:24:470:24:50

the harder it is to stop one of those vehicles.

0:24:500:24:52

SIREN WHOOPS

0:24:520:24:54

This gentleman knew... Yeah, he knew.

0:24:540:24:56

He's been sitting, waiting for me.

0:24:560:24:57

Good morning, sir. How are we doing? Any idea why I've stopped you?

0:25:050:25:09

-Going a bit too fast.

-You were going a bit too fast, weren't you?

0:25:090:25:11

Switch it off, come and have a chat with me for two seconds

0:25:110:25:14

and we'll take it from there.

0:25:140:25:16

Delivery driver Sam uses the A1 regularly.

0:25:160:25:19

And by breaking the speed limit, he's not only risking an accident,

0:25:200:25:24

he's also risking his job.

0:25:240:25:26

The reason why I've stopped you, Sam, as you quite rightly said,

0:25:260:25:29

you were going a bit too fast on the dual carriageway there

0:25:290:25:31

as you were coming up the hill, all right?

0:25:310:25:33

What's the speed limit for your van?

0:25:330:25:34

70? Yeah, OK.

0:25:360:25:38

What makes you think that?

0:25:380:25:39

That van, on a dual carriageway, it's only 60mph.

0:25:410:25:44

And you're doing 77.

0:25:440:25:46

If you thought it was 70, you're still speeding.

0:25:460:25:48

Yes, it's only 7mph,

0:25:480:25:50

but it's another 7mph faster, that's affecting your speed,

0:25:500:25:53

your braking distance, your stopping distance,

0:25:530:25:55

-all those sort of things.

-Yeah.

0:25:550:25:57

It's not a massive amount over, but, nevertheless, it's still over.

0:25:570:26:00

Police will take into account driving history

0:26:020:26:04

when deciding how to deal with a speeding offence.

0:26:040:26:07

Thank you.

0:26:090:26:10

-Have you been on a speed awareness course?

-No.

0:26:110:26:14

It'll cost you, OK?

0:26:140:26:15

You don't get the point, you don't get the fine.

0:26:150:26:17

So, unless you've got any other questions, you're free to go.

0:26:170:26:20

Basically, I was just coming down the hill, I thought...

0:26:210:26:24

I know I was going a little bit faster than I should have been.

0:26:240:26:27

I think they could make the signage better.

0:26:270:26:29

Put a sign up with different types of vehicles

0:26:290:26:32

and tell you your speed limits.

0:26:320:26:34

Obviously, now I know it's a 60mph limit,

0:26:340:26:37

so I'll keep it to the limit that I know now.

0:26:370:26:39

Sam drives off to finish his deliveries.

0:26:400:26:43

He will need to complete a speed awareness course in the next six months.

0:26:430:26:47

I think the trouble is, people pick up the Highway Code

0:26:490:26:51

when they're doing their driving lessons

0:26:510:26:53

and become very knowledgeable of it before that test.

0:26:530:26:55

Once they're successful and pass that test,

0:26:550:26:58

that Highway Code gets put on the shelf and gets forgotten about

0:26:580:27:01

and it's never read again. So, I'm in favour of, every now and then,

0:27:010:27:04

people should maybe have a look at it and just refresh themselves.

0:27:040:27:07

I know all the speed limits for whatever vehicle I'm driving,

0:27:070:27:10

so there's no reason why you shouldn't.

0:27:100:27:12

Aside from the police, keeping the A1 safe and moving round the clock

0:27:140:27:19

are scores of recovery companies.

0:27:190:27:21

More than 180 miles south, near Grantham in Lincolnshire,

0:27:210:27:25

specialist company Tinda-Lee

0:27:250:27:27

deal with more than 16,000 calls every year.

0:27:270:27:30

From helping HGVs to mending motorbikes,

0:27:360:27:39

these specialists deal with vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

0:27:390:27:43

Glenn has been a recovery driver for 25 years

0:27:510:27:54

and today he has had an emergency call for a car stranded

0:27:540:27:57

on the carriageway on the A1.

0:27:570:27:59

If it is in a live lane, obviously it's in a dangerous location,

0:28:020:28:05

then we'll speak to our control. We'll obviously speak to the police

0:28:050:28:08

and see if we can get lane one closed

0:28:080:28:10

to enable us to get there safely,

0:28:100:28:12

to recover the vehicle or move the vehicle.

0:28:120:28:14

The last thing we want to do is cause any accidents or collisions,

0:28:140:28:17

or anything like that.

0:28:170:28:19

Glenn knows working on the A1 can be a risky business.

0:28:200:28:23

The people just don't slow down.

0:28:230:28:25

We've one of our colleagues who had a vehicle in a ditch,

0:28:250:28:27

we had one of our lorries there recovering the vehicle out of the ditch.

0:28:270:28:31

Good visibility. HGV came down,

0:28:310:28:33

never stopped and just ploughed straight into the vehicle.

0:28:330:28:36

Thankfully, the car Glenn has been sent to recover this morning

0:28:360:28:40

isn't in a live lane after all.

0:28:400:28:41

The driver has managed to get to a lay-by.

0:28:420:28:45

How are we doing?

0:28:450:28:47

Are you all right?

0:28:470:28:48

What's it done, lost its water?

0:28:480:28:50

OK.

0:28:570:28:58

Yeah. OK.

0:29:060:29:08

Even in the lay-by, Glenn has to work quickly to avoid any danger.

0:29:080:29:12

Right, know what he's done? He's got a water pipe what's split.

0:29:130:29:16

We're going to recover him,

0:29:160:29:18

obviously to a safer location than here, it's not the best of places to be.

0:29:180:29:22

It doesn't take Glenn long

0:29:220:29:24

to manoeuvre the car onto the back of his truck.

0:29:240:29:27

And soon, he's safely on his way to a garage in Newark.

0:29:270:29:31

He did the right thing, he got himself to the first lay-by,

0:29:310:29:33

got himself pulled up, you know, not in the carriageway. Lovely.

0:29:330:29:36

This has been a relatively straightforward job.

0:29:400:29:43

The garage is going to have a look at it,

0:29:430:29:45

obviously see what they can do for him.

0:29:450:29:46

Hopefully get him on his way. We hope.

0:29:460:29:49

Whether he's hauling away cars, horse boxes or heavy goods vehicles,

0:29:490:29:53

Glenn knows no two shifts are ever the same.

0:29:530:29:56

We do 30 to 40, maybe 50 jobs a day.

0:29:590:30:02

A variety of them are on the A1,

0:30:020:30:03

or we use the A1 to get to and from various jobs.

0:30:030:30:07

And with hundreds of thousands of homes

0:30:070:30:09

within his 70-mile patch of the A1,

0:30:090:30:12

Glenn can also be called to more unusual recoveries.

0:30:120:30:15

There's our guy down here.

0:30:150:30:17

A van driver has lost his keys at a home just off the A1...

0:30:190:30:23

..and has been blocking in three other drivers

0:30:240:30:27

for the last three hours.

0:30:270:30:28

How are we doing?

0:30:280:30:30

All right?

0:30:300:30:31

Where's the key?

0:30:330:30:34

It's the morning after the night before for Ben and his friend Billy,

0:30:360:30:40

who threw a party last night.

0:30:400:30:42

But this morning, they aren't in the mood to celebrate.

0:30:420:30:45

And neither are half their guests.

0:30:460:30:49

When you locked it... Is it your van, yeah?

0:30:490:30:50

-Yeah.

-Did you just lock it once or did you double-lock it?

0:30:500:30:53

-I don't know, to be fair.

-OK.

0:30:530:30:54

-I probably just pressed it once, to be fair.

-OK.

0:30:540:30:56

Any idea where the keys are? No?

0:30:560:30:58

-Searched everywhere?

-If I knew that...

0:30:580:31:00

We must have been searching for a good three or four hours.

0:31:000:31:03

-Right, OK.

-Ten people, in his house, everywhere.

0:31:030:31:06

Yeah, we'll get you off here as fast as we can.

0:31:060:31:09

Glenn and his colleague Dave try using a rod

0:31:090:31:11

to hook onto one of the door handles.

0:31:110:31:13

No, you're going to slip off, Dave.

0:31:130:31:15

There, Dave. There, Dave.

0:31:150:31:18

Oh, Dave!

0:31:180:31:19

If they can open a door, they should be able to release the handbrake...

0:31:190:31:23

Right, pull the door handle at the same time.

0:31:230:31:25

Yes, now. Pull it.

0:31:260:31:28

..and then push the van out onto the road.

0:31:280:31:31

No, you're not going to get it.

0:31:310:31:33

It's deadlocked, mate. It's double locked.

0:31:330:31:35

You ain't getting in there.

0:31:350:31:36

These days, vehicle security really does the job!

0:31:360:31:39

And since the van won't go to the truck,

0:31:410:31:43

the truck will have to come to the van.

0:31:430:31:45

Whoa!

0:31:450:31:46

It's a tight space and a difficult manoeuvre.

0:31:480:31:50

But Glenn makes it look easy.

0:31:530:31:55

You just can't teach that.

0:31:570:31:58

What we're going to do...

0:32:000:32:02

We're going to get some attachments, we're going to on the wheels

0:32:020:32:04

to bring the van up onto the body.

0:32:040:32:06

Since the handbrake is still on and the wheels won't turn,

0:32:060:32:09

Glenn needs to rely on one of the tricks of the trade.

0:32:090:32:12

Do you see how the handbrake's locked?

0:32:120:32:14

We've put some what we call Slippery Jims under it. Look.

0:32:140:32:16

These go under the wheels.

0:32:160:32:18

-OK, Dave?

-Yeah.

0:32:180:32:20

Just put the back straps on, mate, for now

0:32:200:32:22

until we get it out of the drive.

0:32:220:32:23

Then we'll free the road back up.

0:32:230:32:25

I was very impressed with that.

0:32:260:32:28

I thought it was going to take hours to get out of there.

0:32:280:32:30

With Ben and his van safely on board the recovery truck,

0:32:300:32:34

Glenn's job is almost done and Ben can finally get to work.

0:32:340:32:38

There might not be a welcome for him, though,

0:32:380:32:41

when, at last, he arrives.

0:32:410:32:42

I'm going to be four hours late for work now because, obviously,

0:32:420:32:45

I've left my...lost my keys.

0:32:450:32:47

I just had this job just over a month,

0:32:470:32:49

so they shouldn't be too happy, I don't reckon.

0:32:490:32:52

A short time later, with Ben and his van safely delivered in one piece...

0:32:530:32:58

See what else we've got.

0:32:580:32:59

..Glenn can finally get back on the road and head back to the A1.

0:32:590:33:03

It's midwinter in Newcastle and temperatures are way below freezing.

0:33:140:33:18

A1 police officer PC Alan Keenleyside is heading out

0:33:210:33:25

on the early shift to patrol his section of the road.

0:33:250:33:28

When the alarm goes off and you open them curtains,

0:33:300:33:32

it's a white frost or there's ice or snow and you're on the early turn,

0:33:320:33:36

you think, unless it clears, unless it gets warmer,

0:33:360:33:39

it's going to be a busy day.

0:33:390:33:40

Out on the A1, it's not long before he spots an incident.

0:33:400:33:45

We've come up behind a broken down wagon,

0:33:450:33:47

which is getting its tyre fixed.

0:33:470:33:48

I'm just going to make sure he's all right, doesn't need a hand.

0:33:480:33:51

Are you all right, mate? Just seeing if you need a hand, that's all.

0:33:540:33:58

-Thanks, all sorted.

-Is it nearside or offside?

0:33:580:34:00

-Nearside.

-Nearside.

0:34:000:34:01

But Alan suddenly catches sight of another vehicle on the carriageway.

0:34:010:34:05

And immediately gives chase.

0:34:060:34:08

SIREN WHOOPS

0:34:080:34:10

Just as we were getting back in the vehicle there,

0:34:120:34:15

I heard a car go past

0:34:150:34:16

and when you work on the A1,

0:34:160:34:18

you become aware of the sounds of vehicles travelling past you.

0:34:180:34:22

And this vehicle didn't sound right.

0:34:220:34:24

The contact of the tyres sounded wrong.

0:34:240:34:27

When I looked at the tyre, it was really far down, underinflated.

0:34:270:34:31

I think it was the back left tyre.

0:34:310:34:33

If you brake heavily, or have to react in an emergency,

0:34:360:34:40

your vehicle behaves differently.

0:34:400:34:42

When you're travelling at 70mph, it's really, really dangerous.

0:34:420:34:46

HORN TOOTS

0:34:500:34:51

I want you in the slip road, mate.

0:34:530:34:54

-Hello, how are you?

-All right?

0:35:000:35:01

I was just at a broken-down HGV.

0:35:010:35:04

When you went past, I heard a sound coming from your vehicle, all right?

0:35:040:35:08

When I had a look, your back tyre's actually really underinflated.

0:35:080:35:12

-Oh, right.

-Are you aware of that or not?

-No, not today.

0:35:120:35:15

It possibly is.

0:35:170:35:18

It's well down, like, you know?

0:35:180:35:20

So if I go like that...

0:35:200:35:21

There's nothing in, and it's certainly severe enough

0:35:230:35:26

for me to say to you, you need to leave the A1.

0:35:260:35:29

Into that petrol station,

0:35:290:35:30

get some air into it and then at least monitor it.

0:35:300:35:33

-No problem.

-But you need to know about that.

0:35:330:35:36

It's a real safety issue, especially on these roads.

0:35:360:35:38

-Right, we'll come off to the garage.

-And get some air in.

0:35:380:35:41

I just need to get the driver's details,

0:35:410:35:42

-just check him out on the system.

-All right.

0:35:420:35:45

But the routine check brings up some surprising results.

0:35:450:35:49

RADIO:

0:35:490:35:50

Yes, yes, all received here, thanks.

0:35:580:36:00

It appears that the driver potentially has an issue

0:36:000:36:03

with regards to his driving licence,

0:36:030:36:05

so I'm going to have to make some enquiries,

0:36:050:36:07

but with straightforward words of advice,

0:36:070:36:10

"You need some air in your tyre",

0:36:100:36:11

as quite often is the case, I've got to say, is potentially...

0:36:110:36:16

Excuse the pun, giving the weather,

0:36:160:36:17

snowballing into something a little bit more.

0:36:170:36:20

Right, can I have a quick word?

0:36:220:36:23

-Yeah.

-Just in my car, if that's all right.

0:36:230:36:25

What's occurring, all right - I've just done some checks on you.

0:36:250:36:28

You were disqualified in 2014-2015.

0:36:280:36:32

-I believe I was, yes.

-Yeah.

-Aye.

0:36:320:36:34

-It's shown that your...

-With no insurance and stuff like that.

0:36:340:36:37

That was it. It's shown that you haven't got a driving licence.

0:36:370:36:41

It's saying that your licence has expired.

0:36:410:36:44

It expired substantive.

0:36:440:36:46

I wouldn't have thought it would have been expired. Did I...?

0:36:460:36:49

Erm... Let's see...

0:36:500:36:52

If you've been disqualified,

0:36:540:36:55

-you need to apply for a new licence before you can drive.

-Ah, right.

0:36:550:36:58

Essentially, until you've done that, after you've been disqualified,

0:36:580:37:01

you can't drive.

0:37:010:37:02

I've had no notification saying that I had to reapply for my license.

0:37:020:37:06

-Right.

-I thought I was stopped from that time...

0:37:060:37:08

-Yeah, yeah, yeah.

-And then...

0:37:080:37:10

-when that time was over, I could start again.

-OK.

0:37:100:37:13

With the driver's passenger also unable to drive,

0:37:130:37:16

it leaves Alan with little choice about what to do with the vehicle.

0:37:160:37:20

And now he has to interview the driver under caution.

0:37:200:37:23

The vehicle needs to be seized.

0:37:230:37:25

-Right.

-All right? I'm going to caution you.

0:37:250:37:27

You don't have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you don't mention now

0:37:270:37:30

something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.

0:37:300:37:34

There's no doubt in my mind that

0:37:340:37:36

that driver will receive a summons in the post to attend court.

0:37:360:37:39

The Road Traffic Act's there to be followed.

0:37:400:37:43

If you drive a car or a van, or a wagon,

0:37:430:37:45

you've got to make sure you've got the license and insurance to do it,

0:37:450:37:48

and if you don't, you're going to have to take those consequences.

0:37:480:37:50

People are driving around without insurance, without driving licences.

0:37:520:37:55

All it takes is you get a little puncture, policeman sees it,

0:37:550:37:58

policeman stops you, and all of a sudden, that's it, you're...

0:37:580:38:03

You're captured. There's no getting away from it.

0:38:030:38:05

Nice guy, but...

0:38:050:38:08

driving without a licence on the A1.

0:38:080:38:10

The police caught 14,000 drivers without a licence last year

0:38:150:38:20

and numbers are on the rise.

0:38:200:38:21

More than 40 miles south, near Darlington,

0:38:270:38:30

an unusual and precious cargo

0:38:300:38:32

is still on the move.

0:38:320:38:34

Reptile specialists Chris and Adrian are transporting six young alligators

0:38:360:38:40

from Five Sisters zoo near Edinburgh to their new home in Oxfordshire.

0:38:400:38:45

There is no bumping or banging going on,

0:38:450:38:47

which is telling us that they're not moving,

0:38:470:38:51

which means they're in a settled state.

0:38:510:38:53

They'll be lying there, sleeping.

0:38:530:38:55

They're probably enjoying the journey better than us

0:38:550:38:58

because they're in their boxes, lying on a bed of soft straw

0:38:580:39:02

and it's a typical reptile thing to,

0:39:020:39:05

the minute you're plunged into darkness, you just go into, like,

0:39:050:39:09

a calm sort of settled mode.

0:39:090:39:11

It's still well below freezing outside,

0:39:120:39:15

so they decided to pull into a service station

0:39:150:39:18

to check on the alligators.

0:39:180:39:20

Get ourselves up into a suitable parking space.

0:39:210:39:25

That way, we can just do temperature checks and just make sure

0:39:250:39:28

everything's all right.

0:39:280:39:29

Will their efforts over the last couple of hours

0:39:290:39:31

to heat the van up have made a difference to the alligators?

0:39:310:39:35

-17.

-OK.

0:39:350:39:37

17 degrees Celsius, which is...

0:39:380:39:41

..warmer than we would've expected to have got,

0:39:420:39:45

so we're delighted with that.

0:39:450:39:46

But the temperature in the other two boxes has not risen

0:39:460:39:50

as much as they would like.

0:39:500:39:52

-13.6.

-That's left hand, is it?

-Left hand, yeah.

0:39:520:39:55

13.8.

0:39:560:39:57

OK, so it's still a little bit cooler than I would like for

0:39:590:40:02

optimum comfort for the animals,

0:40:020:40:04

but we're basically doing as much as we possibly can with what we've got.

0:40:040:40:07

They get back on the road again,

0:40:090:40:11

hoping to keep those temperatures up.

0:40:110:40:13

Now, close to their destination, they call ahead.

0:40:150:40:19

We're about half an hour away.

0:40:190:40:21

Just to ask what, if anything,

0:40:210:40:24

you want me and Adrian to do when we actually arrive,

0:40:240:40:26

how involved you want us to be.

0:40:260:40:28

Having reared these alligators over the last three years,

0:40:290:40:33

it's going to be tough for Chris and Adrian to say goodbye.

0:40:330:40:36

We've been involved with them for a very long time

0:40:360:40:39

in terms of the growth and bringing them on, and...

0:40:390:40:43

just the general care.

0:40:430:40:45

-I would like to see them out of the boxes, personally.

-Yeah.

0:40:450:40:48

The six will be joining the breeding programme

0:40:530:40:55

at this specialist reptile centre near Oxford.

0:40:550:40:58

Centre director Shaun Foggett is waiting for his new arrivals.

0:41:000:41:04

And despite today's freezing temperatures,

0:41:040:41:07

the alligators have arrived unscathed.

0:41:070:41:09

Temperature all still...?

0:41:090:41:11

It wasn't quite as warm as I would have liked,

0:41:110:41:13

we were upper teens for most of it.

0:41:130:41:16

-OK.

-It's still adequate, just not as comfortable as they would have liked.

0:41:160:41:19

-Let's get them in the warm.

-Yeah.

-Yeah, perfect.

0:41:190:41:21

We were cooking, mind you.

0:41:210:41:23

-I'm sure we were less comfortable than they were!

-Yeah.

0:41:230:41:25

Before Shaun can get these reptiles bedded down and warmed up,

0:41:280:41:31

he and his team need to give them a quick health check to make sure

0:41:310:41:35

they're not too stressed from their journey.

0:41:350:41:37

Any animal that comes into our collection, even though these guys

0:41:370:41:41

have taken some of their statistics here,

0:41:410:41:43

we would just take it, just double-check it

0:41:430:41:46

and check for microchips,

0:41:460:41:47

check the health of the animal.

0:41:470:41:49

It won't be long before these young alligators are fully settled

0:41:530:41:57

into their new surroundings.

0:41:570:41:58

But having reared them,

0:41:590:42:01

it's a bittersweet moment for Adrian and Chris.

0:42:010:42:04

Well, of course, Digit will always hold a wee soft spot in our hearts.

0:42:070:42:10

We had worked with him quite a lot.

0:42:100:42:12

Especially when they first arrived in the collection,

0:42:120:42:14

we had our issues with him, so we're a little bit closer to him.

0:42:140:42:17

And even just him being recognisable outwith the group

0:42:170:42:20

makes him that little bit more special to us,

0:42:200:42:22

so we'll be sad to see him go.

0:42:220:42:23

The day's not over for them yet, though.

0:42:240:42:27

It's a 400-mile journey home, so time to head back to the A1.

0:42:270:42:32

The driver caught with no licence received three points on his record

0:42:420:42:46

and had to pay almost £200 in costs.

0:42:460:42:50

The delivery driver caught speeding

0:42:500:42:52

has still to attend his speed awareness course.

0:42:520:42:55

And after locking himself out of his hired van,

0:42:550:42:58

Ben ended up having to hire another one.

0:42:580:43:00

Next time, a dangerous breakdown in the fast lane...

0:43:010:43:04

..spells double trouble for A1 traffic offices.

0:43:060:43:10

Is that driveable or not?

0:43:100:43:11

Can that drive?

0:43:110:43:13

A rush-hour rollover...

0:43:130:43:14

God knows how that lorry's overturned.

0:43:140:43:17

..threatens a horse trainer's hopes of making the big race.

0:43:170:43:20

20-minute delay, which is not good.

0:43:200:43:22

And police put the brakes on a DIY disaster.

0:43:240:43:28

That's a canny effort of getting the registration number on the van.

0:43:280:43:31

Which, at least it's on there, but it's not the right way it should be done.

0:43:310:43:34

Traffic officers race to get a stranded fuel tanker away from rush-hour traffic. Police catch a vehicle travelling nearly 30 miles per hour over the speed limit. And an illegal motorist is caught red-handed.


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