Documentary series following the people who work on the A1. Bad drivers face a police crackdown, traffic officers race to the scene of a treacherous blowout.
Browse content similar to Episode 7. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
The A1, Britain's longest road.
Stretching almost 400 miles from the City of London to the heart of the
Connecting two nations and passing through 18 counties,
it's an unrivalled highway,
used by hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day.
We are going southbound down the A1 on the northbound carriageway.
But not all journeys go to plan.
I thought, "I'm going to lose my life."
Cars are coming close.
It is a dangerous place to be.
Lives can hang in the balance.
The rear-end of that vehicle is unrecognisable.
This is actually the bodywork of the car.
24 hours a day...
It's not a safe place, here.
..there's a team of people who keep us safe from harm.
We don't know whether they've got the road closed
or we don't know what's happened.
..and traffic officers.
Keeping Britain's most iconic road...
-..on the move.
Substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.
The A1, the monster that it is, will start to return to normal.
The careless drivers putting lives at risk.
The worst-case scenario is that it's a fatality.
Officers race to the scene...
This is high priority.
..of a treacherous tyre blowout.
Traffic's just too busy.
The chances of somebody getting struck on that offside is really high.
And Santa's reindeer head south.
You often get this expression of pure delight when people see the
reindeer for the first time. They really are the spirit of Christmas.
More than 1,700 people were killed or injured in accidents on Britain's
roads in 2015.
21 of them lost their lives on the A1.
Some involve just one vehicle.
Others involve several.
But by far the most common accidents seen on the highway
are rear-end shunts.
It's now half past seven in the morning and there's a report of
a pile-up just before the A1 crosses the River Tyne.
PC Darren Lant doesn't yet know if there are any injuries.
It's vital he gets there as soon as possible.
I think what's happened is there's been a collision
involving four vehicles and then as people have slowed down,
there's been a secondary collision, resulting in another two.
We should be coming across it shortly on the northbound carriageway.
The accident has only just been reported but there are already tailbacks,
causing danger to other road users.
We've already got quite a substantial build-up,
and this is the main arterial route through Newcastle, the A1.
Darren needs to weave through the southbound traffic.
But many drivers have slowed to look, creating the risk of further shunts.
The main priority, certainly for me,
is the welfare and first aid of all those involved.
The worst-case scenario is that it's a fatality,
which would mean a full road closure and can you imagine trying to divert
everything off the A1 to an alternative route?
So we're just pulling up on scene now.
You'll be able to see the recovery truck up ahead.
No injuries? Oh, excellent. Excellent. Great.
These drivers had a lucky escape,
but until the cars are recovered, a lane has been closed on the A1
causing stop-start traffic further south.
Lane one's closed for about a fifth of the way, about
100 metres, just north of the bridge.
The lane can't be reopened until Darren gathers his evidence.
We were just coming along, the traffic slowed down,
to be honest with you.
It was one in front, two in front and literally bumped each other.
They've just all stopped and just gone into the back of us.
After hearing one version of events,
Darren needs to get the other side of the story.
Was there anything wrong with your brakes or anything?
You don't think so.
Have you got your driving licence with you, have you?
Can I see your driving licence, please?
Well, I was on me way to work at Blyth and obviously the traffic's
slowed down and the lady's just gone into the back of us.
This is the first accident I've had.
I've been driving over 30 years.
You're more thinking about the other people trying to get to work and
you're stopping them from getting to work, so that doesn't help either.
But I'll probably not get to work for the rest of the week now,
either, until I get things sorted out.
The other driver accepts full responsibility for the crash.
Darren's now gathered the evidence he needs to decide whether any
-offence has been committed.
-It turned out quite...
Although it's quite substantially damaged both vehicles,
there's no injuries, which is a good thing.
It was the result of a secondary collision.
There had been one further up and the lady hasn't been able to stop in
time for the Nissan coming to a stop and she's gone into the back of him.
The priority now is to recover both vehicles so that the A1 can be
reopened to ease the rush-hour jams.
After 15 minutes, Darren can leave the scene and will assess whether
to take any further action.
The driver of the Nissan, the one that's had the other one going into
the back of him, he's all right.
Nothing will happen with him.
The other driver, the female, she hasn't been able to stop in time.
She said the road was slippy, it's not, it's nice and dry.
She's not alleging any mechanical defect with her car,
she said the brakes were fine.
She doesn't know why she hasn't been able to stop in time.
It's my suspicion and I strongly suspect that she just hasn't reacted enough.
She'd been driving maybe a little too fast for the conditions,
hasn't acknowledged that the guy's coming to a stop and just
gone into the back of him.
You must be able to stop in the distance you can see ahead to be clear.
And she hasn't been able to do that.
Both cars will now be taken away to be repaired.
It'll be up to the drivers to organise their own insurance claims.
Traffic officers deal with more than 4,000 breakdowns on the A1 every year.
It's a common call-out, but one that causes delays,
disruption and danger.
In South Yorkshire, Paul Day and Rob Larkin are on patrol along the road.
Three hours into their afternoon shift,
they spot a van on the opposite side of the A1.
There appears to be a large vehicle with a trailer on.
We're just turning to attend.
If the van's broken down in the middle of a lane,
it could cause a serious accident.
Depending on how far he is down the slip, he may well be in a live lane.
The best scenario here is that it's on the hard shoulder.
That's the potential to be the case.
But if it's a live lane, this is high priority.
He is actually on the hard shoulder.
-He's moving. Is he moving?
Looks like he's got an offside puncture.
The broken-down vehicle is a van with a trailer.
Although the driver has managed to pull onto the hard shoulder,
it's still a dangerous situation.
What's the word?
How much weight have you got on there?
There's a lot on there.
This is a very dangerous job.
Around one in ten fatalities occur on the hard shoulder
and in this case, the blown tyre is on the driver's side
perilously close to the passing traffic.
He's so near to the hard shoulder that it'll be impossible to
change it at the side of the road.
At this time of night, if we put a lane closure out on this slip,
it'd cause chaos, so the best...
the best solution for everyone is if we can move this,
it'll only take a couple of minutes to move it,
whereas if we were going to do a wheel change, it could be up to half the night.
It's going to inconvenience thousands of people.
Traffic is just too busy.
The chances of somebody getting struck on that offside is really high.
Closing both lanes will bring rush-hour traffic to a standstill
but it's the best option.
Only by getting the van off the A1 can safety be guaranteed.
So let your dad know that we're going to be off at 37 and if he comes...
if he comes, get him to pull in front of us, not in front of you
-because he'll be in a live lane if he's in front of you.
All right. That's what we're doing.
Further up the carriageway,
another patrol car is shutting down both lanes of the A1.
Now the clock is ticking because as the tailbacks grow,
so does the risk of a pile-up.
Right, here's the gap, look.
No more traffic.
We're all going to get in and we're going to move off nice and slow.
-Take it as slow as you want.
If for any reason the tyre comes off and it's in the road, we'll stop,
we'll move the tyre off out the way, nice and steady,
just slow down a bit and then we'll catch up to you and we'll come
behind you, all right?
Right, there's our car.
You see him lit up? That means we're safe to move.
With both lanes closed,
the van can now move safely into an empty stretch of the road.
And it soon becomes apparent what may have caused the tyre on the
trailer to blow.
Yeah, I think it's heavy.
It's blown out for a reason.
And there's a lot of weight on that trailer.
The priority is getting the vehicle to safety.
It's taken three minutes to get from the A1 to a side road and the
traffic jam is now a mile long.
Paul radios through for the road to be reopened.
Alpha Charlie Lima 13.
Vehicle is now clear of all live lanes and the log can be closed, over.
It's not too bad. I mean, the tyre is knacked.
The tyre is no good but...
He's got it off. There you go.
I said he's as fast as a pit crew. Formula 1.
By acting quickly, the traffic officers have prevented any
accidents and kept the A1 moving.
-Right, no worries then. Job's a good 'un.
-Thanks for that.
-Right, we'll see you later, then.
Rob and Paul believe this A1 driver has had a close call
like all the other motorists who pass the scene.
It was heavy, was that trailer,
which is a potential for why the tyre blew.
If the trailer is overweight,
the tyre takes too much pressure and that blows the tyres.
The wheel could pop, it starts to get a wiggle on, overturns,
could cause carnage, that.
If one or two of them wheels burst on the same side,
that will overturn that trailer or, at the very minimum, spill the load
across the whole motorway.
And it's just... It's just unnecessary, really.
It's been a busy late shift and it's far from over.
Nearly 100 miles north of the A1's end point
is the Cairngorms National Park.
The hills and valleys of this stunning countryside are home to
Britain's only free-ranging herd of reindeer.
But they don't stay here all year.
In the run-up to Christmas,
they regularly leave home to attend events across the country and when
they need to head south, their number one route is the A1.
It's now November and a herd of Scottish reindeer is halfway through
an epic journey down the A1 to their first Christmas event of the season.
The boys have had a nice time relaxing overnight.
They've had their breakfast. We're just going for a little stretch of
the legs before we load them.
We always do when we're travelling them.
Look, just stop it.
Goodness, boys. Honestly.
This is the busiest time of the year for handlers Hen and Andi.
-They'll spend the next two weeks travelling up and down the
A1 showing their reindeer...
Look, stop it.
..if they can get this boisterous bunch under control.
This is Minute in my left hand, just here.
He is four years old, and Beastie, who is just shaking his head,
he is six years old, and Knock.
Knock is only six months old, so it's his very first time going
away and doing a couple of Christmas events.
It's all new for him but the old boys have done it all before.
Today, the six reindeer have to travel a further 80 miles to
Santa's Grotto at Stockeld Park near Wetherby.
They're set to be the star attraction,
so Hen and Andi are keen to get on the road.
You often get this expression of pure delight when people see the
reindeer for the first time and they really are the spirit of Christmas.
Seeing the reindeer, they're like, "Oh, Christmas is coming, Santa is here."
It's really good fun. It's nice to spread a little bit of joy.
Hundreds of visitors are expected, so it's important to give the
reindeer a chance to settle before the big parade.
We've got plenty of time for the journey.
We always work out how long it should take us and then add quite a
bit of time because you never want to be arriving late at an event in
a rush because that rubs off on the reindeer as well.
Hen and Andi join the A1 near Gateshead.
Other drivers have no idea the spirit of Christmas is sharing the
road, and, being a straight stretch,
the A1 ensures the reindeer can have a smooth journey.
They travel really well. You don't want them tied up like you do with
a horse because of the risk of them catching their antlers in the rope.
So, to be honest, they've got the easy job.
Andi's got the harder work of driving today.
We've just passed a sign for Scotch Corner.
We've got to hope there is no problems on the A1.
It all seems to be flowing nicely at the moment.
I've got my road map. If there is any problems and it's going to hold us
up too much, we will take a wee detour and get ourselves...
We've got to make sure we get there in plenty of time so the reindeer
have got time to relax.
All flowing very nicely so far.
Nice roads this morning.
But has Hen spoken too soon?
With spectators expecting to see Santa's reindeer,
will the herd make it to the show on time or will they miss their big moment?
For Northumbria Police, the A1 is the main road in their area.
One of those tasked with patrolling it is PC Alan Keenleyside.
And tonight, his shift begins under the shadow of the North-East's
most iconic landmark.
There was some real issues when it was first put up that it may cause
collisions by people looking at it, you know,
but thankfully it hasn't been the case.
Tonight, one of the busiest sections of the A1 around the city is
being shut for maintenance.
It's vital drivers abide by the rules to ensure the safety of the
workers on the carriageway.
To protect the road workers, the speed limit has been reduced to 50.
But there are some drivers who seem
to think the limit doesn't apply to them.
Two cars have just sped past.
The vehicle appears to be travelling above the speed limit, so we'll
now progress after the vehicle, see if we can perform a speed check.
One of the cars has pulled off at a slip road, but Alan is still
pursuing the second driver.
He suspects the two cars could have been racing.
He's actually pulled into the slow lane,
so I don't know if he's been rumbled or he's going off here.
As soon as the driver sees Alan's blue lights,
he pulls off the A1 and stops his car.
So, we'll have a stop and see what he wants to say for himself.
I'm sitting on the slip road monitoring traffic speeds and
everyone's doing 50, and then you two drive past like that.
Not acceptable, buddy.
-What's the craic? Be honest.
-I don't know him.
-I'm not saying you do.
-You were going quite fast. I've recorded your speed at 61mph.
All right? So if your average speed there was 61, what was your average
speed when you were driving after that black car that went off,
before I even started you on the speed check?
It was higher than that. It was higher than that.
Alan radios control.
'Checking through the record, there's no stops and no points.'
The driver's got a clean licence, but that could be about to change.
Alan decides to show the driver his in-car recording of the incident.
What I want you to do, when I press play,
is look how fast these cars are going. All right?
I want you to see what 50mph looks like. All right? See the car there?
And there's you two.
I'm going to warn you for your manner of driving tonight,
on the grounds that you certainly
wouldn't drive like that on your driving test,
and if you did, you wouldn't be passing, all right?
OK, I'll write this out for you and I'll give
you your licence back and you'll be all right to go on your way.
Warning the driver gives Alan more time to carry out further
investigations to establish exactly how far over the limit the
motorist was going.
-Look after yourself. Drive carefully, man.
-I will do.
For now, the driver is free to go,
but he'll be hearing more from Alan once he's finished his investigation.
Without doubt, the biggest hazard for drivers on the A1 is other motorists.
Every year, there are more than 200 cases of death by careless driving
on Britain's roads.
Highways England's CCTV system has captured many incidents...
..like this case of a motorist who appears to be deliberately driving
through a set of cones on a section of the highway just near to
Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire.
The driver continues down a closed-off section of the road,
before he's stopped by workmen, and arrested by police.
A decision was later taken not to charge the driver with any offence.
It's an extreme example, but he's not the only culprit.
To the north of Newcastle, PC Darren Lant is on a mission to
crack down on the A1's careless drivers.
There's different levels of careless, isn't there?
There's something that's just a momentary lapse,
that doesn't necessarily mean you're a bad driver,
it just means at that particular time you've had a momentary lapse and
done something that you shouldn't have. But then you've got the top
end of careless driver, which is bordering on dangerous driving, as well.
It's now almost 10am,
and a driver has performed an extremely dangerous manoeuvre,
just yards in front of Darren's patrol car.
This guy, here, was clearly travelling north on the A1,
and then suddenly decided he wanted to be off at the last minute...
..and then shot across the solid white line of the hatched areas
which are there.
The solid line's there to stop people doing that.
It's a hazard area.
He came off at such a rapid pace, he was lucky not to lose control.
So we're going to stop this gentleman and have a quick chat with him.
On the A1, it's momentary decisions like this which can change lives.
-Good morning, sir.
-I can only assume that you missed your
exit, or you thought you were going to miss it, which is why you shot
across at the last minute?
I remembered at the last second at the lights in Morpeth.
All right, OK. Come and have a chat with me about two seconds in
the car, please.
Careless driving puts all other motorists at risk.
It's an offence police take very seriously.
I'm going to caution you.
You don't have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you
don't mention when questioned something which you later rely on in
court, and anything you do say may be given in evidence.
You're not under arrest, OK? A lot of people hear that and think
they're arrested. You're not. OK?
However, the way you're driving there today,
I'm sure you've probably just been watching it there,
is clearly not of the standard required, OK?
It was quite clearly a case of careless driving.
This guy, here, OK, you've cut across the front of him,
at around about 65, 70mph, you've cut in front of him,
and you've entered the solid white line, you've entered the hatchings,
then come out again, all right?
In extreme cases, those found guilty of careless driving can receive
disqualification and an unlimited fine.
I'm going to issue you with what's called a verbal notice of intended prosecution. OK?
You don't have to say anything, but as I say, you've been cautioned,
but I'm going to report you for consideration for the question of
prosecuting you for the offence of careless driving, all right?
So, you understand why I've stopped you?
OK, no problem. What we'll do is we'll let you out,
and you'll get some paperwork through the post in a couple of
days' time or so, OK?
OK, watch your way on out, take care.
He admits that his driving was wrong,
it was below the standard required, and that it was a stupid thing to do.
He remembered at the last moment that there's a set of traffic
lights up in Morpeth to where he is headed,
and in order to try and avoid the traffic lights,
he thought he would come off and come up this road,
which is why he has pulled aggressively in front of that car,
and shot across the solid white lines.
To say how severe is it? It's on a sliding scale.
That case, there, I think that's pretty bad.
I think that incident, there, is pretty bad.
We've got the wet roads, we've got the damp roads, you know,
and he's travelling at speed, and he's made a very violent
manoeuvre in front of another car and across a solid white line.
It could've quite easily gone drastically wrong,
he could have lost control, so I think that's quite a severe case of
careless driving, that one.
This driver is likely to be summoned to appear at his local magistrate's.
It will be up to the courts to decide the right penalty to impose.
In Doncaster, traffic officers Rob Larkin and Paul Day are battling
treacherous conditions on the A1.
Now they've been sent to check on an abandoned van.
But it looks more like a job for Mulder and Scully.
There could be a number of explanations why the van is here.
One possibility is that it's been used to commit a crime, then dumped.
But whatever the reason, it poses a danger to other motorists.
So Paul radios his control centre to run a check on the vehicle.
Alpha Charlie Echo 13, can I get a PNC on this vehicle, please?
It is abandoned.
It's locked secure and it's displaying hazards,
but it is on the narrow hard shoulder, over.
A few minutes later, though,
Paul finds the mystery has a more down-to-earth explanation.
I can see somebody walking back down now with a can of fuel.
No, no problem.
We're just waiting to see... What do you need?
It's OK. Is it your vehicle?
-Yeah, just out of fuel?
Every year, around 8,000 drivers run out of fuel on major roads in England.
It's a common problem but it carries a huge risk.
The hard shoulder of the A1 is a precarious place to be.
This is quite a regular occurrence, big van, run out of fuel,
people trying to get to the fuel station.
Although he's on the hard shoulder, as you can see now,
they're all slowing down to have a look.
You know, it's not the best place in the world.
But at least now he has fuel, he can be on his way but it seems
this driver's not just run out of fuel, he's also run out of luck.
The driver, Robert, is having problems with his phone, too,
but Paul helps him out.
HE SPEAKS IN OWN LANGUAGE
There's a bit of a language barrier, so what I'm going to try and do is
give him a few minutes just to organise some recovery
or a friend to come, then I'm going to take his details,
pass it to our control room,
who will then phone him up and make sure.
That gives us the opportunity to leave.
We then tag it for a timescale to come back to it
to make sure it's gone.
Hopefully, it'll be all sorted.
I'm going to give you two hours to shift it, yeah?
Two hours to move the car.
No, no, it's OK, just so you know.
I'm just telling you what we have to do.
If after two hours this hasn't gone, I'm going to have it moved, OK? Yes?
It can be a bit problematic at the side of the road just getting
your point across, and plus, certain foreign nationals are a bit
nervous of the fact of a uniformed presence being here.
We try to be as sympathetic as possible,
but you've got to get your point across, yeah?
Just put this on.
In situations like this, Highways England's advice is that it's safer
to stand away from a vehicle and the hard shoulder.
OK? Two hours, yeah?
A couple of hours later,
Rob and Paul are back to check on Robert and his stricken van.
They're hoping his friend has turned up with jump leads to start the
vehicle, but they're prepared for the worst.
He was on the tiger tail, wasn't he?
-Yeah, he was, just right on it where it splits.
I can't believe it, he's gone.
-I would never...
I thought that was going to be there for good, that one.
With the stricken van moved, it's a good result for Paul and Rob,
and it means the A1 is now a much safer place to drive tonight.
He's done everything we've asked of him, he's recovered his vehicle,
everybody's happy, nobody's crashed into anybody, cones and lights,
away we go.
Just south of Scotch Corner,
Santa's reindeer are nearing their final destination.
The herd is en route to its first Christmas event of the season near
Wetherby, nearly 350 miles from their home in the Cairngorms in Scotland.
Junction 46, we're coming off at.
They'll spend the next two weeks travelling to shows up and down the country.
We are very old-fashioned, and we just use road maps,
rather than iPads or sat navs or anything like that.
I feel you can't really go wrong with a road map.
It's not going to lie to you, you're not going to run out of battery.
As you'd expect, Santa's reindeer are well travelled,
and spend a lot of time on the A1.
I think I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with going on tour.
I usually dread it, and then when I'm actually away, I quite enjoy it.
Four miles off the A1 is a real winter wonderland - Stockeld Park.
Like many businesses,
the attraction relies on the Great North Road for a large number of its
visitors, especially during the run-up to Christmas.
Now, after a journey on the Great North Pole Road, spanning two days,
the stars of Santa's parade have arrived.
-Hiya. Nice to meet you.
-Are you all right?
Whereabouts are we going with the reindeer?
We're going in that pen, there. Perfect.
Are you going to need anything from us while they're in the pen?
Cup of tea!
-I can get you a cup of tea.
-Reindeer will probably be all right.
So if you want to start that, I'll go and get you both a cup of tea.
-Thank you very much.
-And it's 12pm, isn't it,
-that the reindeer are on display from?
The reindeer can now get used to their surroundings.
It's pretty heavy, pretty heavy.
But there's no rest for Hen and Andi.
And now, with everything in place...
..the reindeer can finally stretch their legs...
So we're just going to have a wee jog around with them.
Come on, boys.
..and some are more eager than others.
Every reindeer is different.
You get your confident ones, your shy ones,
and Nutkins is our crazy boy.
He's a great fun reindeer to have around,
but he always has to do everything at 100mph.
He doesn't do anything sensibly or slowly.
Goodness, boys. Honestly!
They generally respect us as their sort of leaders when we're away.
Minute, are you coming?
Sometimes they don't at all. Sometimes they ignore us!
Oh, wow, look at this, Erin! He's lovely, isn't he?
In just over an hour, the reindeer will perform as part of Santa's parade.
And whilst the older reindeer have had lots of practice...
And the baby one's behind him, look.
..the two calves have never been out in public before.
Basic training starts when they're sort of about five months old,
but for the first five months of their lives,
they were just free-ranging out on the mountains at home,
looking after themselves with their mums.
Our two calves, as yet, you know,
we're still working out their personalities.
I think Spartan is going to be quite a quiet, reserved sort of character.
Knock is a little bit more sort of twitchy,
so he's probably going to be a bit more of a live wire, as it were.
And that's not the only worry.
This is the most common month for the older reindeer to shed their antlers.
And that could be a little awkward.
He could lose his antlers at any time.
He could shake his head, and his antlers could fly off right now,
and it has happened before, which is always slightly embarrassing.
But hopefully, hopefully he will hold them until after Christmas,
until his work is done!
More than 80 miles north, in Newcastle,
patrol officer PC Alan Keenleyside is continuing his investigations
into a driver who was speeding towards roadworks along the A1.
-That's him there.
-That's the little red car, yeah.
By working with the Newcastle CCTV team,
they're able to calculate the length of time the driver was on the A1.
-A picture paints a thousand words.
Alan's also retracing the car's journey
so he can precisely measure the distance the driver travelled.
Back at the station, it's time to piece together all of the evidence.
Four minutes 40 at that distance is 49mph.
Two minutes 54 is clearly going to be a lot quicker,
so let's run two minutes 54 into the equation.
And that gives an average speed of 79.0344mph.
With the motorist confirmed to be nearly 30mph over the speed
limit, Alan's heading to speak to him about what action he intends to take.
If we prosecute this driver through the courts or through the
fixed-penalty system, this driver's going to lose his licence.
We've timed your vehicle, and you are going quick.
Your average speed I've calculated at 79mph...
-..in a 50.
One more mile an hour and you probably would have ended up
in court at that, all right?
Because the driver has shown remorse,
Alan has decided a more lenient penalty is needed on this occasion.
This here is your offer of a course.
It's an educational course, all right?
And it's for careless driving, for changing attitudes. All right?
But go on the course, have the right attitude, learn from it, all right?
And come out of it a better driver. All right?
Being pulled over was, like, a shock, to be honest, but,
to be fair, I got caught. It's me driving like an idiot.
Like he said, if I was doing one mile an hour over,
then it would have been a court sentence, and I've accepted it,
like. It's my own fault.
Alan hopes it's the wake-up call this young driver needed.
He has shown remorse to me there. Yeah,
I really think I've made the right decision there, and as long as
he goes on that course, he'll be staying out of court.
If I can keep him safe and keep other members of the public safe
for using the A1 and the other roads in the area, then I've done my job.
One of the biggest causes of accidents on the A1 is mobile phone use.
It's a potentially lethal distraction for all drivers.
In 2015, nearly 17,000 drivers were given on-the-spot fines
for the offence on Britain's roads.
In Northumbria, police have joined up with a national campaign to crack
down on this crime.
On the A1, just north of Newcastle, PC Darren Lant is on patrol.
I'm just tootling along here, just looking at the drivers on my right,
just to see if anybody is doing anything they shouldn't be,
on their phones, social media, playing with iPhones, iPads,
Kindles, all that sort of stuff.
Offenders can now receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine,
but in serious cases, the driver can be taken to court,
disqualified and fined £1,000.
What we don't want is someone playing on their phone not to see
the traffic in front - they've come to a stop -
and have a repeat of what happened first thing this morning.
It's still not sinking in to some drivers.
And Darren knows all the tricks.
What you'll probably see is, as we drive along,
is someone who's got their phone up to their ear,
when they see the police, they kind of just drop the phone,
and they give the scratch of their ear.
It's not just talking and texting that can be dangerous.
Darren's spotted a BMW driver whose phone is in full view,
which can be a real issue.
He's got his sat nav, he's using his phone as a sat nav,
which is not a problem, but where he's got it, if you have a look...
How on earth can he see straight ahead?
That sat nav is in the most ridiculous position.
So what I'll do is I'll just pull in behind him,
and we'll have a chat with him.
Hello, my friend, how are you? Is this your car?
-Have you got your driving licence?
OK, your sat nav, you cannot have it there, OK?
You haven't got full view ahead, OK, you cannot see clear ahead.
That's in the wrong place. You need that down here, OK?
Or tucked over here, but where it is, you can't...
Yeah, and you're going to have to take that off there, as well.
OK, give me two moments to do a couple of checks, OK?
After radioing the control room, the checks reveal everything is in order,
so Darren opts for a more lenient approach.
He's a genuine guy, we're not in the business of persecuting people,
contrary to what the reputation of traffic officers are.
We're not real big ogres, we're not here to do that.
He's got a nice, new clean licence,
I don't want to tarnish that just for something which could've been
rectified straight away, which he's done.
So I'm going to have another quick chat with him and send him on his way.
But Darren does have some clear words of advice about keeping a
clear view in future.
You know where your windscreen wiper goes?
-Nothing in there, OK?
So anywhere where your wiper goes, nothing in there, OK?
-OK, no problem. Take care now.
Sat navs on your phone, yeah, it's perfectly fine, it's not a problem.
The only issue is where you site it, and when you're using it.
60 miles south of Newcastle near Wetherby in West Yorkshire.
After a 340-mile road trip, taking in the A1,
these Scottish reindeer and their handlers, Andi and Hen,
are gearing up for their first Christmas parade of the season.
I think it's time to get the sleigh out.
Just four miles from the A1 in Wetherby, Stockeld Park is the
setting for the much-anticipated Santa's sleigh ride.
One of the misconceptions people have often about reindeer is people
think they're a mythical animal, and they don't exist,
so they get a huge surprise when they find several reindeer walking
-round the corner towards them.
-It's quite unbelievable.
I've had the sort of people in their mid-20s coming up to me,
and just not, like, not believing that these are actually reindeer.
After Andi and Hen have put the final touches on Santa's sleigh,
all they need now is the reindeer to get into character.
All right, Spider, time to do some work.
Two of the most experienced reindeer have been given the prestigious
task of pulling Santa's sleigh.
This wooden collar just sits nicely over his neck.
And whilst one is happy in his harness,
his friend is not so sure.
You see Minute's just having a bit of a shake, here,
he's a really ticklish reindeer.
Finally, the older reindeer are ready to be harnessed to the sleigh.
I've got his antler caught in my jumper.
It's always one of those jobs where you wish that you had, like,
three hands, rather than two.
It might just take these guys a couple of minutes just to settle down.
The first time for them for the year.
With the parade due to begin in a matter of minutes,
and the crowds gathering...
Are you excited to see Santa Claus?
..it's time for the reindeer to collect the main man.
OK, mums and dads, boys and girls, get ready, and are we all ready?
-Oh, that's not loud enough, are we all ready to see Santa?
More than 200 people have lined up to see the parade.
Give Santa a big cheer and a wave!
The reindeer need to be on their very best behaviour.
After an uncertain start, as they head into the woods,
they soon get into their stride.
MUSIC: Jingle Bells
It's all going very well.
Andi keeps giving me the nod to say they're all OK.
-They're being very well behaved.
Oh, it's really rewarding, because you know it's another one for them,
they'll gain in confidence for it as well,
especially for the first one of the season.
You couldn't not be proud of them, really,
so different from their home environment up in the mountains.
Half an hour later...
..the parade is over.
So these boys were setting quite a pace,
so we were marching along a little bit faster than we normally do,
but Beastie here is quite keen, so that's one under their belts,
quite literally under their Christmas belts.
Aren't they awesome? They're great.
The babies have done really well today, they were very well behaved,
very calm, very relaxed.
To be honest, they've just been copying the adults,
and it's been absolutely fine, which is great.
This is the first time that they've ever been out at an event,
and if they can do that well on their first time, yeah,
I think that bodes really well for the future.
Home time, boys.
Days like this make the long journey south all worthwhile for Hen and
Andi, and after loading up, they'll be back on the A1,
ready to do it all again tomorrow.
No further action was taken against the female driver who caused the
accident near Newcastle.
The motorist who was stopped for careless driving on the A1 near
Morpeth ended up attending a driver improvement course.
And Santa's reindeer spent the rest of the festive period travelling up
and down the A1, including a visit to the road's
most northerly point - Edinburgh.
Next time, a rush-hour breakdown puts lives on the line...
The effects of hitting a wagon at 40, 50, 60mph can be fatal.
..a deadly disruption as a collapsed power line closes the A1...
And the pole's either been struck by lightning or it's been hit and
..and after a 240-mile journey north...
will bad weather sabotage Sunderland's sea-front spectacular?
I've rigged in some pretty bad conditions,
but I think this is the worst I've ever seen.
Bad drivers face a police crackdown, traffic officers race to the scene of a treacherous blowout, and Santa's reindeer head hundreds of miles south down the A1.