Episode 13 A1: Britain's Longest Road


Episode 13

Documentary series following the people who work on the A1. A rush-hour rollover threatens a horse trainer's hopes of making the big race.


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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 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 they've got the road closed or...

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-we don't know what happened.

-..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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Substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.

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

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Coming up...

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A dangerous breakdown in the fast lane

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spells double trouble for A1 traffic officers.

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Is that driveable or not?

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Can that drive?

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The rush-hour rollover...

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God knows how that lorry's overturned.

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

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The 20-minute delay is not good.

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And police put the brakes on a DIY disaster.

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

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At least it's on there but it's not the right way it should be done.

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There are more than 2,000 accidents on the A1 every year,

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and more than 160 of them occur on a ten-mile stretch

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of the road near Newcastle.

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It's rush hour on a Friday afternoon,

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one of the busiest times of the week for bumps and shunts.

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A1 patrol officer PC Alan Keenleyside

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is battling to make his way to the scene of a three-vehicle pile-up.

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Southbound on the A1, just at the MetroCentre now, two,

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two and a half miles away from the incident.

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We're already starting to see brake lights up ahead.

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We need to get there, make that nice and safe,

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and see exactly what's going on.

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First reports suggest the accident has happened in the outside lane,

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often the scene of the most serious collisions.

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Time's really of the essence today.

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We can't afford to hang around.

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When you start getting collisions in the outside lane,

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there's quite often a fair bit of speed involved.

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There's a lot of energy involved in the collision.

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Really, until we get there and see what's happened,

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it's hard to prejudge.

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But with the accident causing virtual gridlock,

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vital seconds are being lost.

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HORN SOUNDS

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I'll give her a blast of the air horn.

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AIR HORN SOUNDS

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We'll never push people, or shout,

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or have a go at anybody for doing the wrong thing.

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People generally try and help to get you through.

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At the end of the day, if we don't get through,

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they don't get home because they're still stuck behind.

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Tango 12-34.

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At the scene, Alan soon discovers that two lanes are blocked...

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Currently taking out lane two and three.

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..with only a trickle of cars able to get through.

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So, I've just given them an update on the radio there.

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That now buys me that time to get down there,

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find out what's going on,

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and give people the help that they need.

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Two white vans and a car have been badly damaged,

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and the Fire Brigade are already at the scene.

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You all right, guys?

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It's looking like a typical rear-end shunt here on the A1.

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Luckily, we're not looking at any serious injuries.

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We're just actually working out a plan now to get that vehicle moved

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and then deal with this collision off the A1

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and get that backlog of traffic cleared.

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But clearly, we need to make sure we can do that safely.

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For van driver Keith Grazier, the crash came out of nowhere.

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Basically, slammed the brakes on.

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It was too quick to happen.

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It was just too quick.

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So I went into the back.

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With its front end smashed, the Corsa is a write-off.

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But fortunately, driver Gareth Edwards has got off lightly.

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I'm all right. A few cuts and that. I'll be all right.

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He travels up the A1 to Scotland twice a week

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from his home in Doncaster,

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but it's the first time he's been involved in a crash himself.

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I was travelling down here about 30, 40 feet behind that car in front.

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He's basically slammed on.

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I tried my best to stop but basically I didn't have a chance.

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I've sat in it many times when it's happened and I've just thought,

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"What are they doing? Why has this happened?

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"Should be paying attention."

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Causes mayhem, doesn't it?

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I'm used to traffic and accidents,

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I've just never been in one before today.

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HE CHUCKLES

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With no major injuries,

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Alan's priority is to get the road reopened.

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That's going to need a full lift, the van.

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Yeah, back end's knackered. I've just had a look.

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But his hopes of easing the Friday rush-hour congestion

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quickly hit a snag.

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A little bit of a situation.

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We were hoping to reopen lane two.

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Because of the proximity of the vehicles,

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we need to protect my colleague here, who's recovering the vehicles.

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We've actually also got a bit of oil which has developed in lane two.

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So my colleagues from Highways England are actually going to get

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some oil dry on, brush it in.

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While we've got this lane closed, try to get as much of this cleansed

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so the road's nice and safe when we get it reopened.

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It's taken around half an hour for Alan and his colleagues to clear

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the crash and make the A1 safe again.

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Universal thumbs up.

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International language of the road.

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As Alan heads north,

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he soon sees from the tailbacks just how much the crash has affected

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traffic along the road.

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That collision couldn't have come at a worse time because this road

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starts to build up anyway round about this sort of time,

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so potentially could be an unrecoverable situation.

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That road may not recover until post-rush hour.

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We could be looking at about four to five miles of standard traffic for

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this time of night.

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Of course, now, if we get another incident south,

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I've got to get through this.

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This is where the local knowledge kicks in.

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We may end up using some alternative routes.

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Even though the A1's the quickest way to get around the region,

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sometimes we've got to get off the A1

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to get where we want to be quickly.

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Keeping the A1 moving is a 24/7 job.

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It's not only accidents which can cause snarl-ups.

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Every year, Highways England traffic officers deal with more than 4,000

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breakdowns on the road.

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But by far the most dangerous

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is when a car comes to a stop in the outside lane.

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Peter Senior and Scott Wilson are hurrying to a high-risk situation

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on the A1 at Newcastle.

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We're just currently turning at junction 74 to attend.

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We should be on the scene in a few minutes. Over.

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A car is stranded in the outside lane at the busiest time of day.

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The driver's pregnant.

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So, for the traffic officers, it's a grade-one priority case.

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329 received.

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Whether we're able to move the vehicle or not, I don't know.

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But due to the location, it may be worth getting CF travelling. Over.

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The risk of a pile-up here is huge.

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And with traffic on the other carriageway slowing to look,

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there's also the possibility of a collision there, too.

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If you get control of the traffic, I'll go and have a...

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word.

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With lives in danger, Peter and Scott must act fast.

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The priority has to be to get the stranded driver to safety.

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Next, they must warn other drivers

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in the hope of preventing a high-speed pile-up.

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So, what's happening with this vehicle at the minute,

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it's got total loss of power.

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So we've got a recovery agent on the way.

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Peter and Scott have done all they can to keep everyone safe,

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but already the breakdown is becoming a dangerous distraction to other road users.

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THUMP

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And now this case has just got more serious.

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As you can see, over the road, there's been an RTC.

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Whether this is down to rubbernecking or what,

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or someone being on the phone or anything, I don't know.

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With us already dealing with a live lane over here,

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we can't go over there and deal with it.

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There's a high risk of serious injury when crashing at such high speeds.

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Scott's concerned about the drivers.

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Excuse me. Do you need an ambulance?

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No? You're all right? Is that driveable or not?

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Can that drive?

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That can, yeah?

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The cars are badly damaged

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but at least they can leave the A1 without assistance.

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It means Scott and Peter can now focus on the original incident.

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It's not uncommon that this happens because quite often we're busy

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dealing with an incident on one carriageway,

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people on the other side start trying to look across

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to see what we're dealing with and, you know,

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they lose that concentration.

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And that's what can happen.

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As the incident has been classed as a priority,

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Peter and Scott have arranged for a recovery truck

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to be sent to the scene as soon as possible.

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At the moment, Scott's down by the initial part of the closure.

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He's just watching the traffic.

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The priority now is just get the truck on,

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get the car away and the lady to a safe place.

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A police car is now at the scene to assist with the safe reopening of

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the lane. Meanwhile, the pregnant driver will be taken away

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in the recovery vehicle.

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What's happening now is the police are closing off lane three with

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their vehicle, giving us protection to be able to remove our closure.

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I'm just going to give my colleague a hand now to lift the gear in.

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Half an hour after first arriving on the scene, the carriageway is clear.

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And Peter and Scott can reopen the lane,

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confident that their actions have helped a driver in peril in a case

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that could have been a whole lot worse.

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Unfortunately, as well, the young lady,

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she decided just to sit in the car till help could arrive.

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In a situation like that,

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what people really need to do is get out of the vehicle and get behind

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a safety barrier until help arrives.

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It was just fortunate we were in the right place at the right time

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to get to her quickly. It is a frightening experience,

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someone being stuck in lane three of a carriageway.

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Nearly 140 miles south, off the A1 in Worksop in Nottinghamshire,

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a racing stables is preparing for a big day.

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Horse trainer Shaun Harris is taking his prized thoroughbred

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on a three-hour journey up the A1.

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Good lad.

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They're heading to Newcastle Racecourse

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to take part in a flat race sprint.

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I forgot to turn the water on.

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Horse racing is in Shaun's blood.

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My mum and dad met in Newmarket and got married,

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so I've been around horses all my life.

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My dad used to do the horse transport,

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so I used to sit alongside him, on to the races all the time.

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So, born and bred with it, really.

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And he's optimistic about his star horse's chances.

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This is Tommy. Racing name Roy's Legacy.

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He's seven years old, won 15 races, hopefully win some more yet.

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Hopefully today.

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Shaun's used to driving up and down the A1.

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Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait.

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Between Worksop and Edinburgh,

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there are nine racecourses within just eight miles of the road.

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And Tommy, or Roy's Legacy,

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has attracted quite a fan club on the racing circuit.

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He has fan mail. People send him Polos.

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He's quite a celebrity, in a small way.

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Just because he's raced so many times that he's become a favourite

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of punters, I guess.

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He's the only horse I've ever had which gets fan mail.

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HE LAUGHS

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I have bet on him in the past but I don't normally bet.

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I tend to be an unlucky punter, so I don't want to jinx them.

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He's got a good chance. We think he'll be in the first three.

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With a long drive of more than 140 miles up the A1 ahead...

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-Good boy.

-..Shaun and his son, Ciaran, need to get a gallop on.

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Good boy, Tommy.

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Shaun and Ciaran know that transporting horses on the A1 can be tricky.

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Occasionally, there's times where there's multiple crashes

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and the A1's completely blocked.

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You just can't go anywhere.

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The horses don't like to be stood still.

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They're quite happy to be travelling in a horse box.

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If you're stood still, they get a bit restless.

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I've known plenty of horror stories where the horse has gone mad

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and kicked the box to bits and the Fire Brigade has had

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to cut the horse out of the box.

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If they panic, they can break through a door, no problem.

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And the A1's design doesn't help, either.

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They're very short slip roads.

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50 yards long.

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There's a car coming on now.

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They just pull out in front of you.

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Yeah. There's a lorry wanting to get in.

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You have to slam on when they do that, pretty much.

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Which, in a horse box, is the last thing you want to be doing

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is emergency braking, so we try and anticipate.

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Some horses, as soon as they feel the horse box rocking,

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or tilting slightly, they tend to panic and start scrabbling.

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Of course they don't have any seat belts or anything like that, so...

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The main thing is to give them a smooth ride.

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Here comes the rain.

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I can't see very well, I don't know about Ciaran.

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38 miles to Newcastle.

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But the weather could put paid to their carefully-planned itinerary.

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The A1 is congested between 60 and 61, is it?

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-Yeah. That's what the matrix said.

-It's not good.

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You feel helpless. You can't do nothing about it.

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That's the worst part about it.

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The event is expected to clear between 2.45 and 3. My God!

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That doesn't sound good.

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With the first race in just an hour and a half,

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will stationary traffic prevent Roy's Legacy

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coming under starter's orders?

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More than 40 miles north,

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the police are turning their attention to problems along the road

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which are of a criminal nature.

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PC Alan Keenleyside is on the lookout for drivers with no MOT or

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insurance and any passing him will be caught by his onboard camera,

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which will trigger an alarm.

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I'm just looking at a transit van.

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A couple of cars up in the slow lane

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and it's shown us the MOT expired on the vehicle.

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I'll stop the driver, just have a quick word with him

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and advise him of that.

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That's handy. He's taken the off slip.

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It's a job Alan has done countless times.

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Morning, mate. Are you all right?

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The reason I've stopped you, all right,

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is I've just done a check on the radio and your vehicle is showing as

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the MOT expired back in January.

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Come jump in my car just for two seconds.

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I'll do some checks. Just take the back seat in there.

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I'll just have a quick word with you.

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But, on this occasion,

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Alan's instinct tells him today is going to be anything but routine.

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Thought I caught a waft of cannabis before.

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I've got a bit of a sniffer dog type nose for that,

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so I'm just going to have a word with this driver

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and see what he's got to say.

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New laws introduced two years ago

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set a legal limit for the amount of drugs in a driver's system

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and improved roadside tests mean cases

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can now be investigated much more easily.

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When I opened the door in the van, I got a waft of cannabis.

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-Do you have any on you?

-No, it's not me.

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Do you use cannabis at all or anything like that?

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Occasionally, but not today.

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Right. Not today. No use at all.

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Having no MOT could be the least of this driver's problems.

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Because I got a smell of it, all right, I'll give you a quick search.

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But I'm also going to go through a roadside testing procedure.

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-Right.

-It'll take a few minutes just to quickly go through that.

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Here's a question. What's your date of birth?

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-Today.

-You were born today?!

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Many happy returns. How old are you?

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-Thank you very much. 37.

-37.

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Alan cautions the driver before delivering some unpalatable news.

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So, you're now required to provide a specimen of saliva as I have

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reasonable cause to suspect you of driving a motor vehicle

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having a specified drug in your body.

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-OK.

-It's not particularly nice, all right.

0:18:000:18:03

You hold your tongue out. What we do is we just swab three times,

0:18:030:18:07

three or four times down onto those sensors there.

0:18:070:18:10

All right. Keep going.

0:18:100:18:12

Keep going. Keep going. That's it.

0:18:120:18:14

Thank you.

0:18:140:18:16

-Not a very nice job, is it?

-No.

0:18:160:18:18

Now we hold it flat and it can take somewhere in the region of about

0:18:180:18:22

eight minutes for that to come up. OK.

0:18:220:18:26

Just a bit of a waiting game on that one now.

0:18:260:18:28

While Alan has been interviewing the driver, his colleague,

0:18:280:18:31

PC Darren Lant, has been up ahead searching the van.

0:18:310:18:35

Is it your van, is it, or a company van?

0:18:350:18:38

All right. OK. Anything in the van you shouldn't have?

0:18:380:18:41

You've just got it this morning, have you?

0:18:440:18:46

Certainly look after their vehicle, don't they?

0:18:480:18:51

There's an experiment growing in that one, I think.

0:18:510:18:53

And the driver's nightmare start to his birthday looks like it's about

0:18:540:18:58

to get a whole lot worse.

0:18:580:19:00

We've searched the van.

0:19:030:19:05

Inside this bag of half-eaten stotties and sandwiches and...

0:19:050:19:09

..drinks cans, there was some of this cannabis bush here.

0:19:110:19:14

So we'll give this to Alan and take it from there and see what the lads

0:19:140:19:19

have got to say about it. It might mean that we have to take the van

0:19:190:19:22

away and get it checked over properly by a drugs dog.

0:19:220:19:24

Have you got a drugs bag in your car?

0:19:240:19:26

-I've got a bag.

-Get the bag, please.

0:19:260:19:28

With the driver's roadside drug test nearing its conclusion,

0:19:280:19:32

Alan has another discovery that's going to need some explaining.

0:19:320:19:35

Nearly an hour's journey south,

0:19:420:19:44

two other road users are facing a very different tricky situation.

0:19:440:19:48

Horse trainer Shaun Harris and his son Ciaran

0:19:510:19:53

are partway through a 140-mile journey north

0:19:530:19:56

along the A1 from Nottinghamshire to Newcastle racecourse.

0:19:560:20:00

Their prize colt, Roy's Legacy,

0:20:000:20:02

is due to take part in a race but now they've hit major traffic.

0:20:020:20:07

-You've got to be at the racecourse half an hour before the race.

-Yeah.

0:20:070:20:10

I think if you're not going to get there half an hour before,

0:20:100:20:13

it's a waste of time going.

0:20:130:20:15

But it's soon clear what the problem is.

0:20:160:20:18

-I can see a lorry.

-An overturned lorry.

0:20:180:20:21

I can see an overturned lorry.

0:20:210:20:22

And it's not even windy. God knows what's happened there!

0:20:240:20:26

Oh, great.

0:20:260:20:28

A car's going down the side.

0:20:280:20:30

What gives him the right to go all the way to the end, do you know?

0:20:300:20:33

We're more in a rush than he is.

0:20:330:20:35

I feel we should get special dispensation to go on

0:20:350:20:38

the hard shoulder with horses, but I'm sure the police won't let me.

0:20:380:20:42

God knows how that lorry's overturned!

0:20:420:20:44

How's it overturned like that?

0:20:440:20:47

You couldn't do that. If you tried to do that in a stunt,

0:20:470:20:50

you wouldn't be able to do it.

0:20:500:20:51

The centre... The barriers in the middle stopped him,

0:20:510:20:55

stopped him from going over this side.

0:20:550:20:57

Finally, their horsebox clears the congestion.

0:20:590:21:02

I'm feeling relieved that we've got moving again.

0:21:020:21:05

I'm glad we're not going that way.

0:21:050:21:06

Else we'd have been late.

0:21:070:21:10

We've got two runners.

0:21:100:21:12

If we didn't get to the races, that's two nonrunners.

0:21:120:21:15

All the owners still pay the same costs to get to the races but don't

0:21:150:21:19

get anything for it. They don't get a run for their money, if you like.

0:21:190:21:22

With just 40 minutes to spare before the first race,

0:21:300:21:33

Shaun and Ciaran finally arrive at the course.

0:21:330:21:36

We're here now, Tommy.

0:21:360:21:38

Won't be long now.

0:21:390:21:40

Now they can get ready for race day.

0:21:420:21:44

All ready for racing. Just get the saddle on later.

0:21:520:21:55

Are you ready? Yeah.

0:21:580:22:00

And the Roy's Legacy fan club have turned out in force.

0:22:000:22:03

We're here to enjoy watching

0:22:030:22:05

our favourite horse run, called Roy's Legacy.

0:22:050:22:09

He's just such a gorgeous little fellow.

0:22:090:22:11

He's got a lovely white blaze down his face.

0:22:110:22:14

It's the way he tries his heart out.

0:22:140:22:16

He always absolutely gives it his all and that's just so good to see.

0:22:160:22:20

We hope he's going to win today because we had a little bet on him

0:22:200:22:24

earlier on in the day.

0:22:240:22:25

We've noticed that the odds have got quite a bit shorter,

0:22:250:22:28

so we're hopeful that other people are going to enjoy a win, as we are.

0:22:280:22:33

All eyes are on Roy's Legacy in the five o'clock.

0:22:350:22:38

I think we'll be in the first three.

0:22:400:22:42

I'm not saying we'll win but we'll be in the winners enclosure.

0:22:420:22:46

Things have to go right in the race.

0:22:460:22:48

As long as there are no mishaps, I think we'll be in the first three.

0:22:480:22:51

ANNOUNCEMENTS OVER PA

0:22:510:22:54

Finally, the big moment has arrived.

0:22:570:22:59

Good gosh! Go on. Get across. Take him over. Take him over.

0:23:020:23:05

Good lad. That'll do.

0:23:050:23:08

It's as far as you'll get over.

0:23:080:23:10

You're going plenty fast enough.

0:23:100:23:12

It's a tight race...

0:23:120:23:14

..but Roy's Legacy can only manage fifth place.

0:23:190:23:23

But despite their defeat,

0:23:230:23:24

Shaun and Ciaran are remaining upbeat about his performance.

0:23:240:23:28

There wasn't much in it - third, fourth, fifth....

0:23:290:23:32

Second, third, fourth, fifth...

0:23:320:23:33

Yeah. Hopefully get one on the board next time.

0:23:330:23:36

He's running well. He did run well.

0:23:360:23:38

He ran his heart out, really.

0:23:380:23:40

He just got swamped right at the end. But we're pleased with him.

0:23:400:23:43

Very pleased with him. Winner next time.

0:23:430:23:46

I'm really pleased with him. He's run his little heart out.

0:23:480:23:50

He's finished fifth in the end

0:23:500:23:52

but he wasn't disgraced, that's for sure.

0:23:520:23:53

He's come back. He's safe. He's well.

0:23:530:23:56

Looks a million dollars. We live to fight another day.

0:23:560:23:59

For Shaun, it's just another day at the races.

0:24:000:24:03

Come on then, Tom. Good boy.

0:24:030:24:04

WHISTLES

0:24:040:24:06

Six o'clock we'll be away and back home for nine o'clock, hopefully,

0:24:060:24:10

at least. And tucking into his tea when he gets back.

0:24:100:24:14

Out in the field in the morning, happy as Larry, hopefully.

0:24:140:24:18

So, Roy's Legacy can look forward to a well-earned meal

0:24:180:24:21

and Shaun's hoping their long journey home back down the A1

0:24:210:24:24

doesn't present any more hurdles.

0:24:240:24:27

Just a few miles up the road,

0:24:340:24:36

PC Alan Keenleyside's routine stop of a motorist for having no MOT

0:24:360:24:40

has turned into something more serious.

0:24:400:24:42

Drugs have been found in the cab of the van and the motorist

0:24:440:24:47

is suspected of driving while under the influence of cannabis.

0:24:470:24:51

That was found in the rubbish bag with the bottles and things.

0:24:520:24:56

OK. What's the craic with that?

0:24:560:24:57

I'll tell you now. I've not been smoking today, right.

0:24:590:25:01

-Right, OK.

-That's mine, OK.

0:25:010:25:03

Right. No result.

0:25:030:25:05

Not exactly the crime of the century, having that.

0:25:050:25:07

All right. Certainly a personal amount. We'll deal with that. OK.

0:25:070:25:10

Meanwhile, the result of a roadside drugs test which Alan carried out

0:25:120:25:16

eight minutes ago...

0:25:160:25:17

We've waited the requisite amount of time.

0:25:170:25:19

..has proved positive.

0:25:190:25:21

So, you've got two lines for cannabis.

0:25:230:25:25

So, the preliminary drug test has tested positive for a specified drug

0:25:250:25:29

in your system. Therefore, I am arresting you

0:25:290:25:33

and taking you to Forth Banks police station.

0:25:330:25:36

Is there anything you want to say to that?

0:25:360:25:39

The new drug driving laws cover eight illegal substances,

0:25:420:25:45

including cannabis and cocaine.

0:25:450:25:47

-PHONE RINGS

-There it is.

0:25:470:25:50

Do you want to speak to your dad?

0:25:500:25:52

But 11 prescription drugs, like morphine,

0:25:520:25:55

are also on the danger list.

0:25:550:25:57

A good little stop. Just from having no MOT,

0:25:570:26:00

we've recovered some drugs.

0:26:000:26:01

He's provided a specimen and there's one on the way to custody.

0:26:010:26:04

So, we're making the road safer all the time.

0:26:040:26:06

Just going to cuff you for transportation. All right?

0:26:060:26:09

Alan's roadside test has shown traces of banned drugs

0:26:090:26:12

in the van driver's body.

0:26:120:26:14

A full blood test will now be needed to establish just how much cannabis

0:26:140:26:17

is in his system.

0:26:170:26:19

All right?

0:26:190:26:20

It's like drink-driving now.

0:26:260:26:28

Your blood will be sent away to the labs.

0:26:280:26:30

It gets examined and then we get a figure back as to how much cannabis

0:26:300:26:35

is in your blood and whether that's over the prescribed limit or not.

0:26:350:26:38

If it is, you'll go to court for that.

0:26:380:26:41

Cannabis stays in your system a lot longer than drink.

0:26:410:26:43

Do you know what I mean? Depending how much you've had,

0:26:430:26:46

it can stay in for days or weeks.

0:26:460:26:48

Just take a seat down there.

0:26:490:26:51

At the station, a sample of blood is taken for analysis

0:26:520:26:56

and the motorist's picture and fingerprints are recorded

0:26:560:26:59

while Alan begins to prepare his case.

0:26:590:27:02

I'm just packaging up the blood now.

0:27:040:27:06

I've actually filled in a bit of a circumstance surrounding the stop

0:27:060:27:10

and what's happened today. That just assists the lab.

0:27:100:27:13

I'll seal it up now, I'll log the time,

0:27:130:27:15

note the time on the paperwork and we'll pop that into the fridge.

0:27:150:27:19

And that'll be us good to go.

0:27:190:27:22

Since new laws on drug driving were passed just two years ago,

0:27:220:27:25

Alan and his colleagues on the A1

0:27:250:27:27

have massively stepped up the number of arrests.

0:27:270:27:30

Now we've got all this technology, we're probably getting as many

0:27:310:27:34

drug-driving as we are drink-driving.

0:27:340:27:36

And the likely consequences of which is a disqualification,

0:27:360:27:40

similar to drink-driving.

0:27:400:27:42

So, if this comes back positive, over the prescribed limit,

0:27:420:27:45

this gentleman will be looking for a day in court with a high likelihood

0:27:450:27:49

of a disqualification for around about 12 months.

0:27:490:27:52

This is going to have massive repercussions onto this driver's life.

0:27:520:27:56

Potentially he's going to lose his job,

0:27:560:27:58

he's going to lose the ability to drive legally,

0:27:580:28:00

and, yeah. That joint last night to celebrate his birthday,

0:28:000:28:03

it's all gone catastrophically wrong for this chap.

0:28:030:28:06

For Alan, what started out as a routine stop has turned out to be

0:28:090:28:13

anything but. No A1 patrol can be taken for granted.

0:28:130:28:18

I think it's really important to emphasise that when we,

0:28:180:28:22

as police officers, certainly working the A1,

0:28:220:28:24

you never know what you're going to get. You just don't know.

0:28:240:28:28

You've got to go in with your guard up, high-risk.

0:28:280:28:32

You've got cars moving around you on the A1.

0:28:320:28:34

On that occasion, open the door, two lads in the van.

0:28:340:28:37

Just that scent of cannabis.

0:28:380:28:40

You just get that little whiff.

0:28:400:28:42

The alarm bells go.

0:28:420:28:43

A good result. Just goes to show somebody who doesn't appear to be

0:28:430:28:47

really doing anything wrong

0:28:470:28:49

is actually a real danger on the roads this morning.

0:28:490:28:52

We've been able to minimise that risk.

0:28:520:28:54

So really, really happy with that.

0:28:540:28:56

Congestion on Britain's road network costs the economy an estimated

0:29:010:29:05

£13 billion a year.

0:29:050:29:07

While many motorists on the A1 point the finger at roadworks,

0:29:070:29:12

they actually account for only about 10% of annual delays.

0:29:120:29:15

On patrol in Northumberland is PC Darren Lant,

0:29:170:29:20

who is cracking down on motorists speeding through roadworks.

0:29:200:29:23

This little red Polo in front of me,

0:29:250:29:27

he's just decided to ignore the temporary speed limit.

0:29:270:29:32

As we come out of Morpeth there,

0:29:320:29:33

it's a temporary speed limit of 40mph for a reason.

0:29:330:29:36

This guy's just come hurtling through there, mid-50s,

0:29:360:29:39

completely ignoring it.

0:29:390:29:41

We'll have a stop with him, we'll have a quick chat.

0:29:410:29:43

I think he knows it's coming.

0:29:430:29:45

It's just after nine o'clock and rush hour should be over but it

0:29:460:29:50

appears this motorist's running a little late.

0:29:500:29:53

Hello, sir. How are you doing? All right? In a hurry?

0:29:550:29:58

You need to get to work. All right.

0:30:000:30:02

Come and have a chat with me

0:30:020:30:03

and I'll explain to you why I've stopped you.

0:30:030:30:05

Take the seat in the back on that side for me, please.

0:30:050:30:08

All right. Any ideas why I've stopped you?

0:30:080:30:11

Yeah.

0:30:130:30:14

But while the driver understands his speeding is why Darren's pulled

0:30:140:30:18

him over, he's still not convinced he's in the wrong.

0:30:180:30:21

It's what...? It's so pointless, is it?

0:30:210:30:23

I'm sure the people that are working in and around the area,

0:30:290:30:31

although they might not have been on the road at that particular time,

0:30:310:30:34

would disagree that it's not particularly pointless.

0:30:340:30:37

Do you want to watch the video of you going through or are you quite

0:30:370:30:40

-happy you were speeding?

-No, I know I was speeding.

0:30:400:30:42

-Do you know what speed you were doing?

-55.

-Spot on.

0:30:420:30:45

All right.

0:30:450:30:47

It's not the first time Liam's

0:30:470:30:48

speeding has put him on the wrong side of the law.

0:30:480:30:51

You got a full licence, Liam, have you?

0:30:510:30:54

Any points or anything on it?

0:30:540:30:55

Yeah, three, I think.

0:30:550:30:57

What was that for? Speeding?

0:30:570:30:58

I had just passed, so I thought the average speed cameras...

0:30:580:31:02

I thought it was the average at each camera.

0:31:020:31:05

-I didn't realise...

-The average at each camera.

0:31:050:31:07

That's a new one. Is that a pointless speed limit as well?

0:31:090:31:12

No. You know what I mean.

0:31:120:31:14

The speed limits are there for a reason.

0:31:140:31:16

They're not pointless.

0:31:160:31:18

The way I propose to deal with it, Liam,

0:31:180:31:21

is to arrange for you to go on a speed awareness course.

0:31:210:31:23

All right? No points, no fine.

0:31:230:31:25

But, obviously, you've got to pay to go on the course. All right?

0:31:250:31:28

Speed awareness courses were introduced in the late 1980s

0:31:280:31:32

in the hope that educating offenders like Liam would lead to long-term

0:31:320:31:37

changes in their behaviour,

0:31:370:31:39

rather than just punishing them with points and fines.

0:31:390:31:42

I didn't see the police to start with.

0:31:440:31:46

I thought, I'd better slow down here.

0:31:460:31:48

Then I saw him weaving a bit, trying to get my attention.

0:31:480:31:52

Then the lights came on.

0:31:520:31:53

I thought, "God, not again."

0:31:530:31:56

But, for Liam, who now faces

0:31:560:31:58

four hours of intensive road safety lessons,

0:31:580:32:01

slowing down for roadworks still seems to be a hard sell.

0:32:010:32:04

When there's no workers in the road and the cones are on the side of

0:32:060:32:09

the road and stuff, I don't know why the speed limit's 40.

0:32:090:32:12

40, I think, is a bit low for

0:32:120:32:15

no workers on the road, especially.

0:32:150:32:18

He had a very strange and quite worrying

0:32:230:32:25

point of view that the speed limit was pointless.

0:32:250:32:28

It's a dangerous point of view to have.

0:32:280:32:30

They're there for a reason.

0:32:300:32:32

They're there for safety. Not only for the public using the roads,

0:32:320:32:35

but they're there for the contractors that are there.

0:32:350:32:37

It can be frustrating, and I understand the frustration

0:32:370:32:40

some drivers get when they're stuck at a reduced speed limit.

0:32:400:32:43

So, yes, there might not be anybody working there but it's other stuff

0:32:430:32:46

that's going around that causes the distraction.

0:32:460:32:48

People get interested in what's happening over there

0:32:480:32:50

or they're looking at this and they're looking at that

0:32:500:32:52

and they're not concentrating on their drive.

0:32:520:32:54

Everything's done for safety.

0:32:540:32:55

People might not like it but it's there for their safety

0:32:550:32:58

as much as the contractors' safety.

0:32:580:33:00

More than 270 miles further south in Hertfordshire,

0:33:040:33:08

traffic officers Richard Jones

0:33:080:33:09

and Carl Hemingfield have been dispatched to a breakdown...

0:33:090:33:12

Start of a busy day.

0:33:120:33:14

..where the A1 meets the M25.

0:33:140:33:17

We're going to the A1 slip road going on from Bignell's Corner.

0:33:170:33:22

We've got a broken down vehicle.

0:33:220:33:25

Police are fending off behind.

0:33:250:33:26

We've been asked to assist them.

0:33:260:33:29

The early morning rush hour is about to start,

0:33:290:33:31

so it has the potential to cause chaos.

0:33:310:33:34

Morning. Have you got an ETA for your unit?

0:33:340:33:38

My colleague called up a short time ago.

0:33:380:33:41

Sierra Echo 52 on the hailing channel.

0:33:410:33:43

We're at Bignell's Corner. We should be with you in about two minutes.

0:33:430:33:46

As they arrive at the junction, though...

0:33:460:33:48

INDISTINCT RADIO CHATTER

0:33:480:33:50

..Carl and Richard discover it isn't just one breakdown but two.

0:33:500:33:54

That's the first, a van.

0:33:570:33:59

-We got his tow hook set up.

-Right.

0:33:590:34:01

This is the one that was in lane three

0:34:010:34:03

that's just pulled over to the side.

0:34:030:34:04

OK, we're going to get somebody else.

0:34:040:34:07

If you guys can't, we'll have to call immediate recovery but...

0:34:070:34:10

OK. We've got another patrol. We'll ask for another patrol to come down.

0:34:100:34:13

-Okey dokey.

-I'll check with Carl. Is there another one coming down?

0:34:130:34:16

-Cos we've got two vehicles here.

-Yeah.

-This is the one at lane three.

0:34:160:34:19

-Do want me to ask them to keep running?

-Yeah, please.

0:34:190:34:22

It seems the transit van came a stop first

0:34:220:34:25

and while the police were blocking off the carriageway to deal with it,

0:34:250:34:28

a taxi broke down in the same spot.

0:34:280:34:30

Sir, can you just stand away from there? Thank you.

0:34:330:34:35

Can you come and stand behind the barrier for me

0:34:350:34:37

because you're in a place of safety there?

0:34:370:34:39

The taxi driver was heading for the M25

0:34:390:34:42

when his clutch suddenly stopped working.

0:34:420:34:45

I was going with the customers to London,

0:34:450:34:48

to one of the embassies in London,

0:34:480:34:50

and then from there to London Heathrow.

0:34:500:34:53

So, that's not a very good day.

0:34:530:34:56

No clutch, no gearbox.

0:34:560:34:58

So I can't go anywhere now.

0:34:580:35:01

I'm not going to earn money.

0:35:010:35:03

And just wait for recovery.

0:35:030:35:06

So it's not a very good day.

0:35:060:35:08

The first step is for Carl and Richard to tow the taxi

0:35:080:35:12

to a safer place.

0:35:120:35:13

Are the keys in the car?

0:35:130:35:15

Can I have the key, please?

0:35:150:35:17

Thank you. I'll find the nearest safest location, if it's a lay-by...

0:35:170:35:20

-I'll go with you wherever you're going.

-OK.

0:35:200:35:23

We can pull anything up to an HGV,

0:35:300:35:33

so we pretty much can clear most things nowadays, in all fairness.

0:35:330:35:37

It's not long before Carl finds a lay-by in which to pull over,

0:35:380:35:42

but it's also ankle-deep in water.

0:35:420:35:44

Not the best place to stop.

0:35:450:35:47

No, I know. It's in the water, isn't it?

0:35:470:35:50

-Deary me, it's flooded.

-Can you go down behind that...?

0:35:510:35:55

I don't think there's enough room, Richard.

0:35:550:35:58

My new polished shoes now look not so polished.

0:35:580:36:02

-Thanks, Carl.

-That's all right!

0:36:020:36:04

Dave, the passenger in the taxi,

0:36:060:36:08

has an appointment at the South African embassy,

0:36:080:36:11

so he's desperate to get to London as quickly as possible.

0:36:110:36:15

I was just going to the African embassy to submit a visa application

0:36:150:36:18

and then flying back to Johannesburg.

0:36:180:36:21

I only flew back from Johannesburg yesterday just purely for this,

0:36:210:36:25

so it's not a very good day.

0:36:250:36:28

Carl and Richard do their best to help find them taxis

0:36:280:36:32

but, at this time of the morning, it's proving difficult.

0:36:320:36:35

This gentleman has broken down between South Mimms and Borehamwood.

0:36:350:36:40

You haven't got any cars at the moment?

0:36:400:36:43

OK. I'll get my gentleman to try and find somebody else.

0:36:430:36:46

Cheers, bye. He hasn't got any cars.

0:36:460:36:49

Eventually, duty calls, and Richard and Carl need to head off.

0:36:490:36:53

I suggest you stay out of the vehicle

0:36:530:36:55

rather than in it round here at the moment.

0:36:550:36:57

The further away from the motorway the better.

0:36:570:37:00

OK then, sir. Good luck.

0:37:000:37:02

I hope you get your visa sorted out.

0:37:020:37:05

The danger on that closure was that it was quite near to the entry slip.

0:37:100:37:14

Cars were coming quite fast down the slip road to join the motorway.

0:37:140:37:19

It wasn't giving them much time to move across.

0:37:190:37:22

It was a busy scene.

0:37:220:37:23

I mean, to get two broken-down vehicles

0:37:230:37:27

in one closure was a tad unusual.

0:37:270:37:30

But that car was so close to the marginal strip, it was...

0:37:300:37:34

I could feel the cars going past as we were being towed.

0:37:350:37:39

The A1 is getting back to normal now but

0:37:390:37:42

as traffic often builds on one of its busiest stretches,

0:37:420:37:45

it won't be long before Richard and Carl are needed again.

0:37:450:37:49

Nearly 290 miles north in Northumberland,

0:37:520:37:54

police are focusing on other problem vehicles.

0:37:540:37:57

More than 20,000 numberplates are stolen every year and they're often

0:38:020:38:06

used to mask a whole host of crimes.

0:38:060:38:08

A1 patrol officer PC Darren Lant thinks this vehicle isn't being used

0:38:100:38:14

for any illegal intent but this DIY disaster's really caught his eye.

0:38:140:38:19

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

0:38:210:38:24

It is clearly visible, I'll give them that,

0:38:250:38:28

but it doesn't really conform to the regulations

0:38:280:38:31

and the standard that we require.

0:38:310:38:33

The van's indistinct lettering mean Darren resorts to guesswork

0:38:360:38:39

to try and trace it.

0:38:390:38:41

Vehicle check, please.

0:38:410:38:43

A1, south.

0:38:430:38:44

I'm going to try Yankee 685 Yankee,

0:38:440:38:48

could be a Delta or an Oscar, Charlie.

0:38:480:38:51

It's a white Transit.

0:38:510:38:53

The van's registered to an owner 200 miles away and Darren decides

0:38:540:38:59

he needs to take a closer look.

0:38:590:39:01

I think I'll have a chat with the guy.

0:39:010:39:03

A couple of reasons. Just want to make sure that bike is secure.

0:39:030:39:06

It looks secure enough.

0:39:060:39:07

I need to have a chat with him about his number plate.

0:39:070:39:10

Yes, he's wrote it on the van there with what looks like

0:39:100:39:13

electrician's tape or something, which, at least it's on there,

0:39:130:39:16

but it's not the right way it should be done.

0:39:160:39:18

As soon as it's safe to do so,

0:39:180:39:19

we'll give this guy a stop and we'll have a quick chat with him.

0:39:190:39:22

Hello there. How are you doing? Is this your van, is it?

0:39:270:39:30

The reason why I've stopped you, guys, is just

0:39:300:39:33

your rather slap-hazard attempt at your number plate on the back there.

0:39:330:39:36

-Yeah.

-You should maybe have just lifted the original one up.

0:39:360:39:40

OK. Just a couple of checks and you'll be on your way as long as

0:39:400:39:43

everything's all right. OK?

0:39:430:39:45

A closer inspection of the bike's fixings

0:39:470:39:50

reveals that's safe and in good order.

0:39:500:39:53

-Do you want to come and have a chat with us for two seconds?

-Yeah.

0:39:530:39:55

But Darren's still not happy with the fact it's being carried

0:39:550:39:58

in a way which means the legitimate number plate is totally obscured.

0:39:580:40:02

If you've got ways of taking it off and putting it up...

0:40:060:40:09

Yeah.

0:40:100:40:12

If you don't mind.

0:40:120:40:13

I appreciate your efforts are somewhat creative.

0:40:130:40:16

Where is it you're going to?

0:40:190:40:21

Right.

0:40:220:40:24

Driver Josh and his friend are on an A1 road trip

0:40:240:40:26

that's taking them the length of Britain.

0:40:260:40:29

After visiting the northern tip of Scotland, they're slowly bringing

0:40:290:40:32

the bike back down the A1 to their homes on the south coast.

0:40:320:40:36

But without a proper number plate,

0:40:360:40:38

they face the possibility of being stranded halfway.

0:40:380:40:41

If you can't shift that number plate,

0:40:410:40:43

put it up and make sure it sticks on.

0:40:430:40:45

I don't want you to put it on and then get two,

0:40:450:40:47

three miles down the road for it to fall off.

0:40:470:40:50

In fact, leave it on. When you get to York,

0:40:500:40:53

-get it secured there properly.

-Yeah.

0:40:530:40:55

At least then you know you're in York

0:40:550:40:56

and you're got a chance to glue it on or whatever.

0:40:560:40:58

At least there's something on there now.

0:40:580:41:00

For Josh, Darren's intervention has been another learning curve on

0:41:000:41:04

a very eventful and haphazard trip.

0:41:040:41:06

We have just been to John O'Groats.

0:41:060:41:10

There's not a lot there but if you get the chance, go and see it.

0:41:100:41:13

We're going to York now, then down to Land's End and...

0:41:130:41:17

Where else are we going? Kent. So that'll be fun.

0:41:170:41:19

Kent. Everyone loves Kent.

0:41:190:41:22

I've been to other places in the world so it's time to

0:41:220:41:25

know this country as well a little bit better.

0:41:250:41:30

With the pair promising to get the plate fixed when they're safety off

0:41:300:41:33

the A1, Darren's happy a warning in this case

0:41:330:41:37

is appropriate for the offence.

0:41:370:41:39

Josh was all right.

0:41:400:41:42

He was a decent enough lad.

0:41:420:41:44

Him and his pal are going up travelling the country,

0:41:440:41:46

camping and stuff, which is great.

0:41:460:41:48

They've been given some advice about the number plate.

0:41:480:41:50

The sticky tape number plate's not really good enough.

0:41:500:41:52

If that vehicle was stolen,

0:41:520:41:54

we can't read them with the technology we've got,

0:41:540:41:56

so it would be hard to try and trace that vehicle.

0:41:560:41:59

So, when they get secured tonight at the next campsite,

0:41:590:42:01

they'll get it secure on then. They're happy and so am I,

0:42:010:42:04

so we'll go and see what we can find now.

0:42:040:42:06

Blood tests on the motorist found to be driving while under the influence

0:42:130:42:16

of cannabis came back positive and he's still awaiting trial.

0:42:160:42:21

And in his next eight races,

0:42:220:42:24

Roy's Legacy went on to win two and claim a place in four others.

0:42:240:42:29

And van driver Josh managed to fix

0:42:310:42:32

his numberplate and finish his marathon journey

0:42:320:42:35

at Land's End after all.

0:42:350:42:37

A dangerous breakdown in the fast lane spells double trouble for A1 traffic officers. A rush-hour rollover threatens a horse trainer's hopes of making the big race and police put the breaks on a van driver's DIY disaster.


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