Episode 2 A1: Britain's Longest Road


Episode 2

Documentary series following the people who work on the A1. Police are called to a major pile-up which threatens to close the road.


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Transcript


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The A1 -

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Britain's longest road.

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Stretching almost 400 miles from the city of London

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to the heart of the Scottish capital.

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Connecting two nations and passing through 18 counties.

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It's an unrivalled highway

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used by hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day.

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

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But not all journeys go to plan.

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I thought, am I 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, we don't know what's happening.

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..and traffic officers.

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Keep going.

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Keeping Britain's most iconic road...

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-Get out...

-..on the move.

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Substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.

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

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Coming up -

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a pile-up on the carriageway...

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Lanes one and two are blocked, so effectively the A1 North is shut.

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..puts lives at risk.

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Substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.

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Highway overload...

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This is very dangerous. That could burst at any time.

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..as officers clamp down on illegal vehicles.

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As it stands, we cannot permit this vehicle to proceed on its journey.

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And fires on the Tyne push police officers to the limit.

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There's a lot of explosives within a car.

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Really, really dangerous.

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With hundreds of thousands of vehicles using the A1 every day,

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keeping the only continuous road between Edinburgh and London moving

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is a 24-hour operation.

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And over in Sprotbrough, near Doncaster,

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an early shift is just about to start.

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It's just before 7am and traffic officers Paul Day and Rob Larkin

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are heading out onto the A1.

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-RADIO BEEPS

-Echo 13...

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Within minutes, there's a report of a crash near Pontefract,

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11 miles north of their base.

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Multiple vehicle RTC.

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Possible injuries.

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Vehicles are still in situ across the road.

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Lanes one and two are blocked.

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Yeah, lanes one and two are blocked, so effectively the A1 North is shut.

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Priority at first attendance is, we make the scene safe,

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we then check for people's injuries,

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organise ambulances, etc, if needed

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and then we deal with the trapped traffic

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and anything else that's going on around us.

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But the priority is to make the scene safe

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and then open at least one lane as quickly as possible.

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The crash involves a truck,

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so there's a chance the victims could be seriously injured.

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And with traffic still speeding past,

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all the other motorists on the A1 are also in danger.

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Looking at this traffic,

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and just not seeing us behind trying to make us way.

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Every second that passes,

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the jam is getting longer

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and this increases the risk of another pile-up.

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-Right, so we just stop everybody here, get us a gap?

-Yeah.

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Right.

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13, we've just stopped the traffic.

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The traffic officers are the first on the scene.

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They've no idea how badly injured the drivers are.

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13, substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.

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Bear with us, we'll see if we can move that,

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once we find out if there's injuries, over. Is anybody injured?

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I'm fine, I wasn't involved, but these guys...

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Are you all right?

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I think it's just from the air bag, it's nothing serious.

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-Need an ambulance?

-No.

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Right, is that your truck?

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-Yeah.

-Will it drive at all?

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I'll come back to you, bear with.

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These drivers have had an incredibly lucky escape.

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-Anybody in this?

-Yeah.

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Yours? Any injuries?

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Just my back is a little bit...

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-Do you need an ambulance?

-No.

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The next priority is to clear the scene

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and to get the A1 moving again.

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What we've got at the minute, is we've got traffic stopped

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and you saw what it did in nine minutes.

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Because we've got it fully stopped now,

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it's not even making any progress at all.

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So the importance is, get it safe, get it open as quickly as possible,

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allow people past...

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..which will not take long now.

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But what Paul and Rob don't realise yet,

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is that the stricken vehicle in lane two is a hybrid electric car,

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which could still be live.

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This incident is about to get a lot more challenging.

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One of the most southerly sections of the A1 is where it intersects

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the M25 in Hertfordshire.

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Tens of thousands of vehicles travel on this stretch every single day.

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But some simply aren't fit to be on the road.

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In Hatfield, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency officer

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John Windebank is on patrol and on the lookout

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for unroadworthy vehicles causing danger to other road users.

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Could be a vehicle that looks like it's heavy or in poor condition.

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And it's not long before he spots a truck that could pose a serious risk

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to other motorists.

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It looks like a 3.5 tonne scaffold vehicle in lane two.

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It could well be overweight, it all depends.

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Overloading of vehicles is quite a common occurrence with us,

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it's probably something that we come across every day.

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If you are in that vehicle and you had to brake suddenly,

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you are not going to stop so you will just plough into the person

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in front of you. I mean, it's possible this vehicle may be OK,

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but looking at it, it may well not be.

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It's John's job to escort the vehicle into a weighbridge

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at the side of the A1, where a team of his colleagues are waiting

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-to take a closer look.

-What I need you to do first,

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can you just reverse up and get the back wheels on the plate for us,

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-please?

-Dangerously overloading a vehicle is a serious offence.

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Last year, more than 70 people faced prosecution for this crime.

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Right, if you stay there while I collect the weights...

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While traffic examiner John Blide weighs the vehicle...

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..his colleague Prem Kumar has concerns about the state of the truck.

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What happened to the windscreen?

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It was my first day, that was.

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Put the radio on the dashboard and it did a little kick.

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How long has it been like that?

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-A week.

-A week?

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Got a bit of trim hanging off here as well.

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OK. Rear lamp cluster broken.

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-Do you know when it was last serviced?

-No.

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And Prem spots another reason why this vehicle is dangerously unroadworthy.

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Found a defective tyre,

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so defective that the side wall on the tyre has become damaged and it's

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caused a bulge to appear.

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That could burst at any time.

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This is very dangerous.

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As it stands,

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we cannot permit this vehicle to proceed on its journey

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in this condition, because there is an imminent danger

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of this exploding. All right?

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And that's not all, John has the results of the weigh-in.

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OK, guys, you are a 3,500 kilo truck coming in at 5,600 kilos.

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You are seriously overweight.

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Just over two tonnes overweight.

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It means the driver, or his boss, could be heading to court.

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I am going to say to you, you do not have to say anything.

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It may harm your defence if you fail to mention when questioned,

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

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The vehicle is unfit to go back on the road and will be immobilised.

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It concerns me that people don't know the danger they put themselves

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into, or other road users.

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If we weren't doing these checks,

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these vehicles would just be running around on the public highway.

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The last thing we want is people killed.

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And with many more vehicles still to check,

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the team is in for a very busy shift.

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200 miles north of Hertfordshire,

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the A1 snakes through the hills of Yorkshire.

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From here, motorists can veer off

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and head into the stunning North York Moors.

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And now, in the Victorian seaside resort of Saltburn-by-the-Sea...

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Amazing. Amazing.

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..Chris and Bev Pope are waiting for their new dream home

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to be delivered up the A1.

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We weren't looking to be here at all, were we?

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-No.

-It just happened.

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We don't live far away.

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It's a lovely area.

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-We wanted the lifestyle change as well, didn't we?

-Yeah.

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We fancied a bungalow.

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As soon as we walked onto the place and had a look round the showroom,

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we decided that was very much what we wanted

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and the lifestyle we wanted.

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We've never looked back, so here we are, yeah.

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Their new home isn't being built on site,

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it's being assembled hundreds of miles away in Northamptonshire.

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They bolt it together but then the weight just keeps it together.

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Right. Is that what happens?

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-Yeah.

-It's very exciting.

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It is, it's really exciting.

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You've got instant house.

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I'm looking forward to everything being brand-new.

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From seeing the brochures and the home itself, then just been waiting,

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and waiting and waiting, which I'm not good at.

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That is pretty incredible, isn't it?

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Though just how do you move a house up one of Britain's busiest highways?

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At his base in Northamptonshire...

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Careful.

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Push back slowly.

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..it's the job of Jason Wainwright to oversee the safe delivery

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of Chris and Bev's dream home.

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We always like to have the lorries loaded up the evening before.

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So first thing in the morning we can get onto the road to miss the

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rush-hour traffic and make our journey nice and easy.

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They are prepping their 66-foot long low loader for a night-time mission

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that will take them nearly 200 miles north.

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The trailers we carry the mobile homes on are made specifically

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for carrying mobile homes.

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They've got specially adapted centre wells, that lower down to bring the

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heights of these roofs down

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so we don't hit any bridges on the motorways.

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And it stretches out to a total of 55 foot in length,

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which means we can carry a 65-foot home on the back of our low loaders.

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A 65 foot by 16.5 foot is very challenging.

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The home is being transported in two halves...

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..and getting it on the road has taken weeks of meticulous planning.

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We've had to notify the police of our route and all locations

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up the A1 - Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire.

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We have specific notification sent back as to what restrictions

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have been put in place. That's pretty good, I'm happy with that.

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Whether it's daylight hours we are allowed to travel through.

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Whether there's any roadwork issues,

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or anything like that we've got to take into consideration.

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Sometimes we may have to, and we may have to tomorrow,

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call some police forces just to let them know we are entering their area

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and when we are safe and left their area.

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With the home finally on board...

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..they can hit the road.

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It's 5am the next morning.

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Whilst many A1 road users are still sleeping,

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Jason and his team are amongst the thousands of drivers using the

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carriageway at the crack of dawn.

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I can hear you, mate.

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Jason's accompanied by two specialist wide load escort vehicles

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to ensure this huge load can keep on moving.

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We've got two escort vehicles up the front.

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One pre-warning any traffic and one warning them again

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before they see our flashing lights coming down.

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The escort vehicles have pulled him over just to allow us to carry on

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our journey past him. It's not being inconsiderate,

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it's just easier for us to keep moving with a wide load.

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Apart from the odd slow-moving vehicle,

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Jason's hoping today's early start will help avoid delays.

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All clear of that one.

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As a general rule, we don't end up hitting too much traffic,

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if we can help it, because we like to get on the roads earlier.

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But when you are travelling with a home on your back,

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you can expect to travel at a snail's pace.

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And the other freight trucks on the A1 pose a real risk

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to Jason's wide load.

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Lorries overtaking us and hitting our load is our biggest fear.

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One's just overtaken us a minute ago.

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I don't generally flash people in to pull back in front of us once they

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have overtaken us because they tend to pull in very quickly.

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All that then does for us guys is restrict our vision.

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Here, we've got some very...

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Some lorries very close.

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Had he pulled in front of us quickly,

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we would never have been able to see that.

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Despite having an escort, it's vital Jason keeps his wits about him.

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As he heads through Lincolnshire, there's still a long road ahead.

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The A1 passes through 15 different police forces,

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more than any other road in the UK.

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Police officers patrol night and day

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to keep traffic moving and motorists safe.

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In Northumbria, PC Alan Keenleyside has just received his latest call.

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Just been driving the A1(M) on the three-lane section here

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and come across a broken down vehicle on the hard shoulder.

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So we'll just go out and see what the matter is,

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if we can help the motorist in any way.

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Alan never knows what he will be faced with -

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from car fires, to criminal activity.

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Or something entirely different.

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-Hello.

-Hiya, you all right?

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Hello, little one.

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Oh, right, nightmare.

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I'll leave you to it. I'll stay behind you, just for a couple

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of minutes and then when you're done,

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I will follow you off, all right? Take care.

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It's a little baby just been sick in the back of the car.

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So Mum's frantically trying to clean up.

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Clearly, nothing further needed here.

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I'm not going to give any tickets or points for babies being sick.

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But not every case is so innocent.

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'Vauxhall Corsa.

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'Male driver.'

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What we've got now is,

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we've got a pursuit.

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Alan is pursuing a driver who has failed to pull over

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when asked to stop by the police.

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He's ignored sirens and flashing blue lights.

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When a car fails to stop, you've got to think there's a reason for that.

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It could be a stolen car, it could be a disqualified driver.

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The driver could be under the influence of drink or drugs.

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So when you've got a vehicle

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that fails to stop it's inherently dangerous.

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The last report was going over this roundabout.

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By the time Alan arrives,

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the driver has been stopped by an unmarked police car.

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He is now being questioned by police.

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Just make sure everything's all right, that's all I'm going to do.

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Alan gets an update from fellow traffic officer, PC Gary Morris,

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who had also joined in the pursuit.

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-Do you think he saw him?

-He was just hoping that if he just ignored him

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he'd give up and leave him alone.

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The driver in our car there is compliant.

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So we'll just hang back here, Mick's dealing with him.

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It's pointless going down there and aggravating a situation that doesn't

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need to be aggravated.

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Police discover the driver hasn't got any insurance

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and doesn't even have a driving licence.

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He's not passed a test, so he's not shown he's actually got the ability

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to drive a car safely. If he's on a provisional licence,

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he's obviously got to be displaying L plates and got to be accompanied

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by a suitably qualified driver that is keeping him right on the road.

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And obviously to do that, he's got to be insured as well.

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If he was to have an accident with anybody, somebody else,

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who's perhaps going to suffer an injury or damage

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and they've got no recourse against the driver of this car.

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By not stopping when he was asked to,

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the driver made a dangerous situation worse

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and he's now going home without his car.

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So what's going to happen now, we've confirmed this vehicle

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has no insurance. The driver of the vehicle

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is a provisional licence holder, so the driver's been interviewed

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and will be reported to court for those offences.

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This vehicle will now be seized by us and when the driver

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is able to produce the relevant documents,

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he's got a licence and insurance for this vehicle,

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the vehicle will be returned to him.

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He's got to do that within seven working days.

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If that doesn't happen, the vehicle will be disposed of

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by means of crushing, or if it's over a certain value,

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it'll go to auction and be auctioned off.

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So a good little result and another vehicle off the road this morning.

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Back on the southern edge of the A1 in Hatfield,

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the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency team is still on the hunt

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for dangerous vehicles.

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Examiners have pulled up another van

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they suspect may be carrying an excessive load.

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This can be deadly, as stopping speeds are dramatically increased

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when vehicles are overweight.

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-Good morning.

-Good morning.

-How are you?

-Fine.

0:18:120:18:15

What's the name of the company you're working for?

0:18:150:18:17

-What's the name?

-Sorry.

-It's on the side of the van.

0:18:170:18:19

Vehicle examiner Vicky Foster is keen to quiz the driver.

0:18:190:18:23

OK, if you can just park for me,

0:18:230:18:25

just in the lane next to this vehicle and then I'll be over to you

0:18:250:18:28

in a second.

0:18:280:18:29

As Vicky weighs the vehicle, driver Robert is worried about the outcome.

0:18:310:18:35

I put some stuff in this morning that's going to a scrap yard, so,

0:18:350:18:38

you know, a lot of it you can just take out and it will be underweight.

0:18:380:18:42

But then, you know,

0:18:420:18:43

the penalty is you can't do the job you're expected to do.

0:18:430:18:47

But it's not good news for Robert.

0:18:470:18:49

3.5 tonne light goods vehicle and it's come in over 4.5 tonne.

0:18:500:18:56

Unfortunately, you are 33.71% overweight and because of the amount

0:18:560:19:00

of the overweight, it's not a fixed penalty,

0:19:000:19:02

-it will be referred to court.

-OK.

0:19:020:19:03

So I will be conducting an interview with you under caution.

0:19:030:19:06

-Yeah, whatever.

-OK?

0:19:060:19:08

Robert will now have to remove all the excess weight in his van

0:19:100:19:13

before he is allowed to drive any further.

0:19:130:19:16

It affects stopping distances, it affects the braking,

0:19:160:19:19

and the steering and handling of the vehicle.

0:19:190:19:21

It puts the general public...

0:19:220:19:24

..at risk.

0:19:250:19:26

Back on the A1, John Windebank is on patrol.

0:19:290:19:33

Part of the officer's job is to spot-check European lorries

0:19:330:19:37

to ensure their paperwork is all in order.

0:19:370:19:39

But now he's spotted a vehicle with markings he doesn't recognise.

0:19:410:19:45

I believe its Spanish.

0:19:460:19:48

It's quite a newish vehicle.

0:19:480:19:50

He decides to pull it over for Vicky and the team to have a closer look.

0:19:500:19:54

I'm just indicating to come off at the junction.

0:19:540:19:56

He's indicating, so he's totally compliant.

0:19:560:19:59

-Hello.

-Hola.

-Do you speak English?

-No.

0:20:040:20:07

-Spanish, Spanish.

-When did you come into the UK?

0:20:070:20:10

-Did you come ferry or train?

-Train, train.

-Train.

0:20:110:20:15

-Do you have your ticket?

-Ticket?

-Ticket.

0:20:150:20:18

I lose it, OK.

0:20:180:20:20

Although the truck passes as roadworthy...

0:20:200:20:22

..there are other concerns.

0:20:240:20:26

The maximum a goods driver can work is 56 hours in a week,

0:20:260:20:30

with regular breaks...

0:20:300:20:31

..so Vicky wants to check his tachograph.

0:20:330:20:35

I'm just looking at the driver's hours just to ensure they've had

0:20:360:20:39

enough daily rests, enough weekly rests.

0:20:390:20:41

The results don't look good.

0:20:420:20:44

At the moment we've got some infringements regarding weekly rest.

0:20:440:20:48

Driver has had two reduced weekly rests back-to-back

0:20:480:20:53

and has driven for seven days.

0:20:530:20:55

Driving when tired puts everyone at risk.

0:20:550:20:58

This trucker will receive an on-the-spot fine and be banned

0:20:580:21:01

from driving for 45 hours.

0:21:010:21:03

-Problemo. Problemo.

-Problema?

-Yeah.

0:21:030:21:07

OK.

0:21:070:21:08

Penalty for you, £300.

0:21:080:21:12

Prohibition. No driving, 45 hours.

0:21:120:21:17

OK? Yeah.

0:21:170:21:19

It's a very good result.

0:21:210:21:23

The drivers are now going to be rested

0:21:230:21:25

when they start driving again.

0:21:250:21:27

They won't be a risk to road safety

0:21:270:21:29

and are unlikely to cause any accidents on our roads.

0:21:290:21:32

It's obviously a huge danger to the general public, road safety.

0:21:340:21:38

If the driver is overtired, he hasn't had sufficient rest,

0:21:380:21:40

could fall asleep at the wheel and crash into oncoming traffic.

0:21:400:21:44

I certainly wouldn't want to be in the car in front of him

0:21:440:21:47

or any of my family either.

0:21:470:21:49

More than 150 miles north,

0:21:520:21:55

Jason Wainwright and his specialist wide load team

0:21:550:21:57

are now three hours into their journey...

0:21:570:22:00

..transporting an entire home through nine counties along the A1.

0:22:020:22:06

With a maximum speed of 56 miles per hour, it's slow going.

0:22:120:22:16

We're now around Ferrybridge area on the A1 near Doncaster.

0:22:160:22:23

And now they've hit rush hour.

0:22:230:22:24

Traffic's just a little bit slow round here,

0:22:260:22:28

we're crawling through it.

0:22:280:22:30

It's just putting our ETA back

0:22:300:22:31

by about five to ten minutes at the moment.

0:22:310:22:34

Legally, Jason's only allowed to drive for a maximum

0:22:340:22:37

of four and a half hours before taking a break.

0:22:370:22:40

What's the timescale left on the A1?

0:22:430:22:45

When I stop, somebody can relieve me from my driving.

0:22:470:22:50

I've done 3.22 at the moment so I'll probably struggle to get to site.

0:22:500:22:55

So if we can have a bit of a driver swap just to make sure we are doing

0:22:550:22:59

everything legal, would be nice.

0:22:590:23:01

Coming up to junction 45, Wetherby.

0:23:010:23:04

This will be where I come off.

0:23:040:23:05

While Jason rests,

0:23:070:23:09

his colleague will drive the final 70-mile stretch to their destination.

0:23:090:23:13

And an hour later on the approach to Saltburn-by-the-Sea,

0:23:160:23:20

they've reached a very tricky point.

0:23:200:23:22

The bridge going into Saltburn is only 15ft 6" high.

0:23:220:23:26

Normally the height we travel at is about 16ft 2", but on this one,

0:23:280:23:31

we're specially lowering it down a bit further.

0:23:310:23:34

With the air let out of the trailer's tyres

0:23:350:23:37

to lower the house further, there are only inches to spare.

0:23:370:23:41

It's going to be close, it always is.

0:23:430:23:46

It's going to be tight.

0:23:460:23:47

You're all right, fine.

0:23:510:23:53

It's a close shave, but to Jason's relief,

0:23:530:23:56

both halves of the house clear the bridge intact.

0:23:560:23:59

And now they need to be unloaded from the main trailer

0:24:020:24:05

before they enter the site.

0:24:050:24:07

The rear winch at the moment is pulling the actual home back off

0:24:070:24:11

-the lorry now.

-But even though Jason has moved many houses,

0:24:110:24:15

this part of the job never gets any easier.

0:24:150:24:18

We've never had one fall off, thankfully.

0:24:180:24:20

I do know of one that has fell off.

0:24:200:24:22

Hold it there, boys. Just going to let the winch off.

0:24:220:24:25

Jason now has another tricky task -

0:24:270:24:30

manoeuvring the 32-tonne house onto site without the assistance

0:24:300:24:34

of his lorry.

0:24:340:24:35

We have the park entrance blocked off.

0:24:350:24:39

'Blocked.'

0:24:390:24:40

Fantastic. Right, we are coming down, then.

0:24:400:24:43

And now there's an added pressure.

0:24:460:24:48

That's it. This way.

0:24:480:24:50

Owners Chris and Bev have come to witness the arrival

0:24:500:24:53

of their new dream home.

0:24:530:24:54

It's amazing. I still can't believe that everything's in there.

0:24:560:25:00

It looks small like that. It's much, much bigger when you get inside.

0:25:020:25:05

-Much, much bigger.

-We'll have to pinch his kerb.

0:25:050:25:09

Jason has a ten-man-strong team...

0:25:090:25:11

Come off that grass. That's it. Straight.

0:25:110:25:14

..to help him negotiate the tight roads at the holiday park.

0:25:140:25:17

That's it, this way.

0:25:170:25:18

Doug, can I get down that side?

0:25:180:25:20

You've got plenty of run-off, so you can.

0:25:200:25:23

But even the most experienced...

0:25:230:25:25

All right.

0:25:250:25:27

..can get stuck in the mud.

0:25:270:25:29

We are off-roading, really.

0:25:290:25:30

It's a nervous time for Bev and Chris.

0:25:340:25:37

It's stuck on something now.

0:25:390:25:41

Hold it there, Darren.

0:25:410:25:42

It's not going up something.

0:25:440:25:47

The team may have safely transported this home nearly 200 miles north

0:25:470:25:51

-of the A1...

-The last thing we want to do now, having got it

0:25:510:25:54

all this way, is to break it at the final hurdle.

0:25:540:25:57

Very tense indeed.

0:25:580:26:00

But after eight hours on the road,

0:26:000:26:02

is the move about to end in disaster?

0:26:020:26:04

Tyne & Wear.

0:26:120:26:13

It's one of the A1's smallest counties.

0:26:140:26:17

But it's also one of its busiest.

0:26:180:26:20

Now on a two-lane section close to Newcastle...

0:26:210:26:24

..PC Alan Keenleyside is on his way to a reported car fire.

0:26:250:26:29

These calls are classified as Grade 1 emergencies.

0:26:290:26:33

It means there's an immediate risk to life.

0:26:330:26:36

Historically, with older cars, you used to get a lot of vehicle fires,

0:26:360:26:40

but certainly of late, the way the cars are nowadays,

0:26:400:26:43

vehicle fires are getting less and less.

0:26:430:26:45

Alan's first impressions at the scene are reassuring.

0:26:470:26:50

There's no smoke and his colleagues seem to have the situation

0:26:500:26:53

under control.

0:26:530:26:55

-Is everything all right?

-Yes.

0:26:550:26:56

Good. We had a report that the car was smoking as well?

0:26:560:26:59

Oh, the clutch.

0:27:040:27:06

There's a real smell of burning coming from the car.

0:27:060:27:09

You can see the clutch pedal's completely gone,

0:27:090:27:11

so it looks like your clutch cable's snapped.

0:27:110:27:15

It will be a recovery from here, all right?

0:27:150:27:18

Agnes and her husband Robert have been to pick up their son's car.

0:27:180:27:22

He'd left it at work last night to go for a drink.

0:27:220:27:25

We picked it up for him as a favour

0:27:250:27:28

and we were just taking it to his home.

0:27:280:27:31

He's just sorry it was, you know, we were stuck with the problem.

0:27:310:27:36

Agnes had only been driving it for a few minutes

0:27:360:27:38

when it started losing power.

0:27:380:27:40

Luckily, her husband was following behind.

0:27:400:27:42

Just as I was driving along,

0:27:440:27:45

the car was making a very loud noise when I changed gear.

0:27:450:27:50

So I pulled in.

0:27:500:27:51

I knew something was wrong cos it wouldn't go into gear, you know.

0:27:510:27:55

You feel unsafe with the cars hurtling past.

0:27:550:27:59

But the police have been wonderful.

0:27:590:28:01

Because you are far enough off the A1,

0:28:010:28:04

we can actually leave this vehicle in situ here.

0:28:040:28:06

It will be entirely up to you just to arrange that recovery yourself.

0:28:060:28:10

One of the options is, your good lady and you could jump

0:28:100:28:13

into your car, nip up to the shopping park here,

0:28:130:28:17

grab a coffee or something,

0:28:170:28:19

the RAC will give you a ring when they're a couple of minutes away

0:28:190:28:21

and you can meet them back here with the key.

0:28:210:28:23

Car fires used to be a common occurrence.

0:28:250:28:28

These days, though, they're rare.

0:28:280:28:30

Once upon a time, a car would catch fire reasonably easily, but now,

0:28:330:28:38

because of the way vehicles are built...

0:28:380:28:40

..the fuel cut-offs, the insulation,

0:28:410:28:43

the fire suppression systems in vehicles,

0:28:430:28:47

fires aren't as common as what they used to be.

0:28:470:28:50

A lot of people mistake vehicle defects for vehicle fires.

0:28:500:28:54

If the brakes are binding on a vehicle, if there's a collision,

0:28:560:28:58

the air bags go off.

0:28:580:29:00

People say the vehicle's on fire.

0:29:000:29:02

Actually, it could just be a mechanical defect.

0:29:020:29:05

I think everybody, when they see smoke,

0:29:050:29:08

they revert to worst-case scenario and shout vehicle fire.

0:29:080:29:11

But I would never blame people for that, that's a human reaction.

0:29:110:29:15

But ultimately, you've got to have an open mind when you respond

0:29:150:29:18

to these incidents.

0:29:180:29:19

But not every case turns into a false alarm.

0:29:200:29:23

It's 3pm and just as Alan is heading back to the station,

0:29:250:29:28

he finds himself in the middle of a real emergency.

0:29:280:29:31

Are you all right if this flows?

0:29:330:29:35

Are you all right if I keep this lane flowing?

0:29:350:29:37

-Yeah, yeah.

-Are you happy with that?

0:29:370:29:40

The Fire Service were on the scene within minutes,

0:29:400:29:43

but Alan still doesn't know if anyone's been injured.

0:29:430:29:45

We've got complete closure,

0:29:470:29:50

northbound from Tealand Road at the minute.

0:29:500:29:51

Lane one southbound is passable.

0:29:510:29:55

Traffic is going to be very busy in this area now.

0:29:550:29:58

Just let the firm know, please.

0:29:580:29:59

Yes, yes, they are extinguishing the fire now.

0:30:020:30:04

They are in lane two southbound.

0:30:040:30:07

I don't actually know where the owners are around here.

0:30:070:30:11

It's a dangerous situation on a busy road.

0:30:110:30:14

The team need to extinguish this fire and find out what has happened

0:30:140:30:17

to the driver.

0:30:170:30:18

On the northbound stretch of the A1 near Pontefract,

0:30:210:30:25

Paul Day and Rob Larkin are still at the scene

0:30:250:30:28

of a multi-vehicle pile-up.

0:30:280:30:30

The road has been closed

0:30:300:30:32

and rush-hour traffic is now starting to build.

0:30:320:30:35

It's causing stop-start traffic further south,

0:30:350:30:37

which is a severe risk for other drivers.

0:30:370:30:40

Non-injury crash.

0:30:410:30:43

Lot of debris, lot of mess,

0:30:430:30:45

so what we're doing,

0:30:450:30:47

clearing up as best we can, make the scene safe,

0:30:470:30:50

allowing traffic to run past in lane two.

0:30:500:30:53

That should be a good 'un, then.

0:30:530:30:56

Luckily, the damaged truck is still driveable.

0:30:560:30:58

By moving it out of the second lane,

0:30:580:31:00

there's a good chance it can be reopened soon.

0:31:000:31:03

Just going out of lane one closure,

0:31:040:31:06

cos we've got the stricken vehicles in lane one.

0:31:060:31:09

Once we've got this in place,

0:31:090:31:11

we can let this traffic go past in lane two.

0:31:110:31:14

Just waiting for Paul to finish sweeping up this debris

0:31:140:31:18

and then we should be good to go.

0:31:180:31:20

The A1 has been completely closed for about ten minutes,

0:31:200:31:24

causing huge tailbacks.

0:31:240:31:26

But thanks to Rob and Paul's swift response,

0:31:260:31:29

one lane can now be reopened.

0:31:290:31:31

Rob has some bad news that will mean a big delay to reopening the other lane.

0:31:340:31:39

I've just discovered that one of the vehicles is a hybrid vehicle.

0:31:410:31:44

When they're hybrid, we won't recover them cos there's a chance

0:31:450:31:48

the bodywork could be live,

0:31:480:31:50

so we leave it to the recovery agents to do that.

0:31:500:31:52

While they wait for the recovery truck,

0:31:540:31:56

Paul offers the drivers some advice.

0:31:560:31:58

If you can give your details to each party, if you saw it, for a witness,

0:31:580:32:03

job will be a good 'un from us and you can go then.

0:32:030:32:05

-OK, cool.

-All right?

0:32:050:32:07

You two - have you exchanged details?

0:32:070:32:09

-No, not yet.

-If you can write name, address,

0:32:090:32:12

contact number down of the driver, or your company,

0:32:120:32:15

-but I need the driver's name and contact number, yeah?

-Yeah.

0:32:150:32:19

The situation is made all the more dangerous

0:32:190:32:22

because of the exact spot where the accident has happened.

0:32:220:32:25

Just being on the viaduct, there's no hard shoulder.

0:32:250:32:27

There's no hard shoulder, there's nowhere for them to go.

0:32:270:32:30

So we just have to cone out behind it, like we have done,

0:32:300:32:33

and get traffic flowing past it in lane two.

0:32:330:32:35

Yes, it does cause a minor problem,

0:32:350:32:37

but it's nothing that we can't deal with.

0:32:370:32:39

Meanwhile, the delays mean the tailbacks keep on growing.

0:32:390:32:44

We've been here probably 40, 50 minutes.

0:32:440:32:47

We initially stopped traffic, which creates its own issues and backlog.

0:32:490:32:53

We've had an update that the impact of the traffic is back

0:32:530:32:57

at least two junctions, which takes it down to Doncaster Road.

0:32:570:33:00

That then is probably six miles.

0:33:000:33:04

It is flowing past,

0:33:040:33:06

but we've got quite a considerable amount of traffic backlog.

0:33:060:33:09

Both lanes now, because people are looking.

0:33:110:33:13

20 minutes later though, the recovery truck arrives to pick up

0:33:160:33:19

the hybrid. By now, the tailbacks are nearly five miles long.

0:33:190:33:23

I'm sure you've already noticed, mate,

0:33:230:33:25

but it's a hybrid so we don't know whether it's live or not.

0:33:250:33:28

-We'll leave it to you.

-No worries.

0:33:280:33:29

I'm going to try it at first,

0:33:330:33:35

to see if it's live. If it's not live,

0:33:350:33:37

we'll just leave it dead and just pull it on with slips.

0:33:370:33:39

It should, hopefully have a shutdown on it,

0:33:390:33:41

which will disable all systems.

0:33:410:33:43

So, we'll take it from here, get stuck in and go for it,

0:33:430:33:46

get this motorway flowing as quick as we can.

0:33:460:33:48

With the hybrid safe, it can at last be taken away.

0:33:510:33:54

And finally, Rob and Paul can open the second lane and traffic

0:33:550:33:59

can begin to get to normal.

0:33:590:34:00

It's always important to get a lane opened as soon as possible

0:34:030:34:07

and then to clear it as soon as possible.

0:34:070:34:09

It does back up daily, but with us having one lane shut here as well,

0:34:090:34:14

that would have impacted on it quite significantly.

0:34:140:34:16

If it hadn't have been a hybrid,

0:34:180:34:19

we may well have been able to drag it off network,

0:34:190:34:22

just round the bend is a bit of a hard standing.

0:34:220:34:25

But with it being a hybrid, we couldn't touch it.

0:34:260:34:28

Three counties north in Tyne & Wear,

0:34:410:34:43

traffic officer PC Alan Keenleyside

0:34:430:34:46

is still dealing with a serious car fire.

0:34:460:34:48

The blaze has been going for 15 minutes.

0:34:500:34:53

Thankfully, the driver of the car, Jennifer Mountain,

0:34:530:34:55

has been unharmed in the incident.

0:34:550:34:58

Are you all right, first and foremost?

0:34:580:34:59

-Yes.

-That's the important thing.

-OK.

0:34:590:35:01

That can be, well, I was going to say that can be fixed, it can't be.

0:35:010:35:04

But, it's insured.

0:35:040:35:05

What about recovery for this?

0:35:070:35:08

Do you want us to go ahead and get that organised for you?

0:35:080:35:12

-Yes.

-All right.

0:35:120:35:13

Thanks to improved safety systems and better engineering,

0:35:130:35:16

car fires on this scale are rare.

0:35:160:35:19

But when they do happen, they can have devastating consequences.

0:35:190:35:23

The A1 is literally just over that roundabout there.

0:35:260:35:29

So as we've been on the A1, seen the big billowing smoke,

0:35:290:35:32

we've come off the A1,

0:35:320:35:34

only come about 100 metres. Fire Brigade were already in attendance

0:35:340:35:37

and they've very quickly got this fire under control.

0:35:370:35:39

It's really, really dangerous around a car fire.

0:35:390:35:43

There's a lot of explosives within a car.

0:35:430:35:45

You're talking the bits that hold the bonnet up,

0:35:450:35:48

the air bag firing mechanisms and the like.

0:35:480:35:51

Really, really dangerous.

0:35:510:35:52

When the fire started,

0:35:540:35:56

Jennifer was going to pick up her son from school.

0:35:560:35:59

-You come up the hill...?

-Yeah,

0:36:000:36:02

they just stopped working so I put my hazards on

0:36:020:36:04

and then it set on fire, so I ran out.

0:36:040:36:06

All the best, we'll take care of your car and get it away.

0:36:060:36:10

As Jennifer heads off, Alan turns his attention

0:36:100:36:13

back to the clear up and the possible cause of the incident.

0:36:130:36:17

Right now, we need to get this lane reopened and get this traffic

0:36:170:36:21

flowing out of Newcastle as quickly as we possibly can.

0:36:210:36:23

The A1 is going to be affected as well,

0:36:230:36:25

so back to patrolling that

0:36:250:36:26

and making sure that's run as it needs to be.

0:36:260:36:28

Thankfully, the Tyne & Wear Fire Service got to the scene quickly

0:36:300:36:33

and managed to put out the flames,

0:36:330:36:35

but reopening the road won't be straightforward.

0:36:350:36:38

We are getting the car recovered, but even if the car's recovered,

0:36:380:36:42

we're not going to be in a position to open this road.

0:36:420:36:44

That's because all this metal has just melted in.

0:36:440:36:47

It's molten into the road surface.

0:36:470:36:50

This happens a lot at road traffic collisions where,

0:36:500:36:53

if you get a big collision,

0:36:530:36:54

we clear the accident but the road remains closed

0:36:540:36:57

because the local authorities sometimes have got

0:36:570:37:00

to dig the road up and re-lay it before it can be safely reopened.

0:37:000:37:04

That's still smoking, that.

0:37:040:37:05

It's still smouldering.

0:37:060:37:08

45 minutes later, a truck arrives to shift the burnt-out car

0:37:100:37:13

and council workmen can start clearing up the road.

0:37:130:37:16

Needs a new arrow.

0:37:170:37:18

You not got any white paint on you?

0:37:200:37:22

-Tippex?

-Tippex!

0:37:220:37:24

Much to the relief of the people trying to get home,

0:37:240:37:27

the road won't need completely resurfacing tonight,

0:37:270:37:30

meaning traffic can start flowing again.

0:37:300:37:32

We've had a look at it with the engineer and the road is ready to be

0:37:340:37:37

reopened, so, all this traffic backing up out of Newcastle

0:37:370:37:40

towards the A1, we can get that going again

0:37:400:37:42

and everyone is able to get home.

0:37:420:37:44

Right on rush hour now, 4:20pm on a Tuesday afternoon, so...

0:37:440:37:48

..let's go away and get these good people of Newcastle home.

0:37:500:37:54

With traffic moving once more, it's been an eventful end to the day.

0:37:560:38:00

But it could have been a whole lot worse.

0:38:000:38:02

That lady, thankfully, she didn't have the kids in the car with her.

0:38:040:38:07

There was just her as a driver, an adult driver.

0:38:070:38:09

She was able to get out straightaway and get herself safe.

0:38:090:38:13

She was on her way to pick the kids up from school,

0:38:130:38:15

so she has got a young family.

0:38:150:38:16

If that car had caught fire 10 or 15 minutes later,

0:38:160:38:20

it could have been two kids in the back-seat.

0:38:200:38:22

So you've got a car on fire, you've got to move the seats forward,

0:38:220:38:25

you've got to get people out the back-seat.

0:38:250:38:27

Horrendously difficult to do, so she's been lucky.

0:38:270:38:31

Nearly 40 miles to the south east in Saltburn-by-the-Sea,

0:38:370:38:41

Chris and Bev Hope have come to see their brand-new retirement home

0:38:410:38:45

being delivered.

0:38:450:38:46

It's travelled nearly 200 miles from Northamptonshire,

0:38:460:38:50

already fully fitted with all the mod cons.

0:38:500:38:53

It's not going to fall off the edge.

0:38:530:38:56

Jason Wainwright and his team have the precarious job of getting the

0:38:560:39:00

house - which is still in two halves - into Chris and Bev's plot.

0:39:000:39:04

-On my left.

-Oh, oh.

0:39:040:39:07

Very nearly there. They must be pretty close to that.

0:39:070:39:09

It is, very close to that.

0:39:090:39:11

Daz, let your winch off.

0:39:120:39:14

It's here in one piece, that's the main thing.

0:39:140:39:17

Fantastic.

0:39:170:39:18

Before the two halves are connected,

0:39:180:39:20

Chris takes the unique opportunity

0:39:200:39:22

to walk down the middle of his new home.

0:39:220:39:25

It's incredible, isn't it? Absolutely incredible.

0:39:260:39:30

That wasn't that colour.

0:39:300:39:32

-Kidding.

-THEY LAUGH

0:39:320:39:34

To see them like this and then to know what they turn into,

0:39:350:39:38

it's absolutely gobsmacking, it really is.

0:39:380:39:42

Everybody clear?

0:39:420:39:43

Now, it's the moment of truth.

0:39:430:39:45

Here we go, positioning.

0:39:460:39:48

Everybody clear, blocks out?

0:39:500:39:52

Inch.

0:39:560:39:57

After some skilful manoeuvring from Jason,

0:39:590:40:02

the 32-tonne house is finally in place.

0:40:020:40:05

Oh, no, door ain't going to work yet.

0:40:060:40:09

It's not quite level.

0:40:090:40:10

Super.

0:40:140:40:15

Gravy.

0:40:160:40:17

Chris and Bev can look forward to moving in.

0:40:190:40:22

Cheerio, adios.

0:40:220:40:23

For Jason and his team, it's time to head back down the A1.

0:40:230:40:27

It's three weeks since Chris and Bev's dream retirement home

0:40:380:40:41

travelled nearly 200 miles up the A1

0:40:410:40:44

and now they've finally moved in.

0:40:440:40:46

-This house has been more...

-More than we hoped for.

-..than we hoped for.

0:40:480:40:52

It's just amazing from start to finish.

0:40:520:40:54

It's turned out better than I...

0:40:540:40:56

Better than we dreamed of, yeah.

0:40:560:40:58

The house has two double bedrooms.

0:40:590:41:01

One with an en-suite bathroom.

0:41:010:41:03

We've never had an en-suite in our life and now we've got one,

0:41:050:41:07

so that's really pleasing.

0:41:070:41:09

The bed is actually in here when it comes up on the lorry.

0:41:090:41:13

The little dressing table, the little stool, they were all in.

0:41:130:41:17

As well as a living room and dining area, and a fully fitted bathroom,

0:41:180:41:22

there's one room that Bev loves the most.

0:41:220:41:24

I love the kitchen. I've never had a kitchen as big as this before,

0:41:260:41:28

I've only had tiny kitchens.

0:41:280:41:30

So this is a luxury for me.

0:41:300:41:32

I really like being able to look out the window into the woods.

0:41:320:41:35

It's so quiet, isn't it?

0:41:350:41:37

-Really peaceful.

-Peaceful.

0:41:370:41:39

You can actually hear the sea, so that's really nice.

0:41:390:41:41

To help put the finishing touches to their dream home...

0:41:430:41:46

Hello.

0:41:460:41:47

..Chris and Bev's daughter Lauren and grandson Rueben,

0:41:470:41:50

have paid them a visit.

0:41:500:41:51

There you go, Ruebs, box of elephants.

0:41:510:41:54

Hello, I am Mr Pinky...

0:41:540:41:58

Bluey.

0:41:580:41:59

I think we feel quite settled now, don't we?

0:42:000:42:02

At first it felt like we were on holiday.

0:42:020:42:05

-But now...

-Especially with getting these little trinkets out,

0:42:050:42:08

they sort of personalise it all

0:42:080:42:10

rather than looking like blank space.

0:42:100:42:12

L-O-V-E.

0:42:120:42:15

-Love.

-Love. I was just thinking the other day, if I won a lot of money,

0:42:150:42:19

I don't know whether I'd want to move now.

0:42:190:42:21

I wouldn't, no. Don't want a big mansion, do you?

0:42:210:42:23

No, definitely not.

0:42:230:42:25

-Cosy little house for the two of us.

-Yeah.

0:42:250:42:27

The uninsured driver's car was later scrapped

0:42:330:42:36

and he's still waiting to appear in court.

0:42:360:42:38

The driver of the overloaded truck was interviewed under caution

0:42:400:42:44

and is due before magistrates.

0:42:440:42:46

And further investigations revealed the car fire in Tyne & Wear

0:42:470:42:51

started after a major electrical fault.

0:42:510:42:54

Next time - traffic police in Scotland...

0:42:540:42:57

-Oh, goodness.

-..deal with a shocking incident.

0:42:570:42:59

This is actually the bodywork of the car that skidded along the road.

0:42:590:43:04

A battle to get a mammoth machine to the end of the road in London.

0:43:040:43:08

We are going southbound down the A1 on the northbound carriageway.

0:43:080:43:12

And a rear-end collision puts traffic officers at risk

0:43:130:43:17

on the A1 front line.

0:43:170:43:19

Cars are coming close, so it is a dangerous place to be.

0:43:190:43:22

Police are called to a major pile-up which threatens to close the road. Traffic examiners clamp down on dangerously overloaded vehicles, and there is a mammoth mission to deliver a couple's dream retirement home nearly two hundred miles up the A1.


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