Episode 7 A1: Britain's Longest Road


Episode 7

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.


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Transcript


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The A1, Britain's longest road.

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Stretching almost 400 miles from the City of London to the heart of the

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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 are going southbound down the A1 on the northbound carriageway.

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But not all journeys go to plan.

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

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Cars are coming close.

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It is a dangerous place to be.

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Lives can hang in the balance.

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The rear-end of that vehicle is unrecognisable.

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This is actually the bodywork of the car.

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24 hours a day...

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It's not a safe place, here.

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

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The police...

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..response teams...

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We don't know whether they've got the road closed

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or we don't know what's happened.

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..and traffic officers.

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Keep going.

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Keeping Britain's most iconic road...

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-Get out!

-..on the move.

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Substantially damaged flatbed truck in lane two.

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

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Coming up...

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The careless drivers putting lives at risk.

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The worst-case scenario is that it's a fatality.

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Officers race to the scene...

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This is high priority.

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..of a treacherous tyre blowout.

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Traffic's just too busy.

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The chances of somebody getting struck on that offside is really high.

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And Santa's reindeer head south.

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You often get this expression of pure delight when people see the

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reindeer for the first time. They really are the spirit of Christmas.

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More than 1,700 people were killed or injured in accidents on Britain's

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roads in 2015.

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21 of them lost their lives on the A1.

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Some involve just one vehicle.

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Others involve several.

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But by far the most common accidents seen on the highway

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are rear-end shunts.

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It's now half past seven in the morning and there's a report of

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a pile-up just before the A1 crosses the River Tyne.

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PC Darren Lant doesn't yet know if there are any injuries.

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It's vital he gets there as soon as possible.

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I think what's happened is there's been a collision

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involving four vehicles and then as people have slowed down,

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there's been a secondary collision, resulting in another two.

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We should be coming across it shortly on the northbound carriageway.

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The accident has only just been reported but there are already tailbacks,

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causing danger to other road users.

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We've already got quite a substantial build-up,

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and this is the main arterial route through Newcastle, the A1.

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Darren needs to weave through the southbound traffic.

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But many drivers have slowed to look, creating the risk of further shunts.

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The main priority, certainly for me,

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is the welfare and first aid of all those involved.

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The worst-case scenario is that it's a fatality,

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which would mean a full road closure and can you imagine trying to divert

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everything off the A1 to an alternative route?

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So we're just pulling up on scene now.

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You'll be able to see the recovery truck up ahead.

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Anybody hurt?

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No injuries? Oh, excellent. Excellent. Great.

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These drivers had a lucky escape,

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but until the cars are recovered, a lane has been closed on the A1

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causing stop-start traffic further south.

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Lane one's closed for about a fifth of the way, about

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100 metres, just north of the bridge.

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The lane can't be reopened until Darren gathers his evidence.

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We were just coming along, the traffic slowed down,

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to be honest with you.

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It was one in front, two in front and literally bumped each other.

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They've just all stopped and just gone into the back of us.

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After hearing one version of events,

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Darren needs to get the other side of the story.

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Was there anything wrong with your brakes or anything?

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You don't think so.

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Have you got your driving licence with you, have you?

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Can I see your driving licence, please?

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Well, I was on me way to work at Blyth and obviously the traffic's

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slowed down and the lady's just gone into the back of us.

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This is the first accident I've had.

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I've been driving over 30 years.

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You're more thinking about the other people trying to get to work and

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you're stopping them from getting to work, so that doesn't help either.

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But I'll probably not get to work for the rest of the week now,

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either, until I get things sorted out.

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The other driver accepts full responsibility for the crash.

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Darren's now gathered the evidence he needs to decide whether any

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-offence has been committed.

-It turned out quite...

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Although it's quite substantially damaged both vehicles,

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there's no injuries, which is a good thing.

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It was the result of a secondary collision.

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There had been one further up and the lady hasn't been able to stop in

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time for the Nissan coming to a stop and she's gone into the back of him.

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The priority now is to recover both vehicles so that the A1 can be

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reopened to ease the rush-hour jams.

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After 15 minutes, Darren can leave the scene and will assess whether

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to take any further action.

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The driver of the Nissan, the one that's had the other one going into

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the back of him, he's all right.

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Nothing will happen with him.

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The other driver, the female, she hasn't been able to stop in time.

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She said the road was slippy, it's not, it's nice and dry.

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She's not alleging any mechanical defect with her car,

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she said the brakes were fine.

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She doesn't know why she hasn't been able to stop in time.

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It's my suspicion and I strongly suspect that she just hasn't reacted enough.

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She'd been driving maybe a little too fast for the conditions,

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hasn't acknowledged that the guy's coming to a stop and just

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gone into the back of him.

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You must be able to stop in the distance you can see ahead to be clear.

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And she hasn't been able to do that.

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Both cars will now be taken away to be repaired.

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It'll be up to the drivers to organise their own insurance claims.

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Traffic officers deal with more than 4,000 breakdowns on the A1 every year.

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It's a common call-out, but one that causes delays,

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disruption and danger.

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In South Yorkshire, Paul Day and Rob Larkin are on patrol along the road.

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Three hours into their afternoon shift,

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they spot a van on the opposite side of the A1.

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There appears to be a large vehicle with a trailer on.

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We're just turning to attend.

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If the van's broken down in the middle of a lane,

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it could cause a serious accident.

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Depending on how far he is down the slip, he may well be in a live lane.

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The best scenario here is that it's on the hard shoulder.

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That's the potential to be the case.

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But if it's a live lane, this is high priority.

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He is actually on the hard shoulder.

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-Just.

-He's moving. Is he moving?

-No.

-He is.

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Looks like he's got an offside puncture.

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The broken-down vehicle is a van with a trailer.

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Although the driver has managed to pull onto the hard shoulder,

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it's still a dangerous situation.

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What's the word?

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How much weight have you got on there?

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There's a lot on there.

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This is a very dangerous job.

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Around one in ten fatalities occur on the hard shoulder

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and in this case, the blown tyre is on the driver's side

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perilously close to the passing traffic.

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He's so near to the hard shoulder that it'll be impossible to

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change it at the side of the road.

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At this time of night, if we put a lane closure out on this slip,

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it'd cause chaos, so the best...

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the best solution for everyone is if we can move this,

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it'll only take a couple of minutes to move it,

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whereas if we were going to do a wheel change, it could be up to half the night.

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It's going to inconvenience thousands of people.

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Traffic is just too busy.

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The chances of somebody getting struck on that offside is really high.

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Closing both lanes will bring rush-hour traffic to a standstill

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but it's the best option.

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Only by getting the van off the A1 can safety be guaranteed.

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So let your dad know that we're going to be off at 37 and if he comes...

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if he comes, get him to pull in front of us, not in front of you

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-because he'll be in a live lane if he's in front of you.

-Right.

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All right. That's what we're doing.

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Further up the carriageway,

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another patrol car is shutting down both lanes of the A1.

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Now the clock is ticking because as the tailbacks grow,

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so does the risk of a pile-up.

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Right, here's the gap, look.

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No more traffic.

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We're all going to get in and we're going to move off nice and slow.

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-Take it as slow as you want.

-Yeah.

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If for any reason the tyre comes off and it's in the road, we'll stop,

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we'll move the tyre off out the way, nice and steady,

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just slow down a bit and then we'll catch up to you and we'll come

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behind you, all right?

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Right, there's our car.

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You see him lit up? That means we're safe to move.

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With both lanes closed,

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the van can now move safely into an empty stretch of the road.

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And it soon becomes apparent what may have caused the tyre on the

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trailer to blow.

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Yeah, I think it's heavy.

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It's blown out for a reason.

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And there's a lot of weight on that trailer.

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The priority is getting the vehicle to safety.

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It's taken three minutes to get from the A1 to a side road and the

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traffic jam is now a mile long.

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Paul radios through for the road to be reopened.

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Alpha Charlie Lima 13.

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Vehicle is now clear of all live lanes and the log can be closed, over.

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It's not too bad. I mean, the tyre is knacked.

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The tyre is no good but...

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He's got it off. There you go.

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I said he's as fast as a pit crew. Formula 1.

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By acting quickly, the traffic officers have prevented any

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accidents and kept the A1 moving.

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-Right, no worries then. Job's a good 'un.

-Thanks for that.

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-Right, we'll see you later, then.

-Cheers.

-Thank you.

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Rob and Paul believe this A1 driver has had a close call

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like all the other motorists who pass the scene.

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It was heavy, was that trailer,

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which is a potential for why the tyre blew.

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If the trailer is overweight,

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the tyre takes too much pressure and that blows the tyres.

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The wheel could pop, it starts to get a wiggle on, overturns,

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could cause carnage, that.

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If one or two of them wheels burst on the same side,

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that will overturn that trailer or, at the very minimum, spill the load

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across the whole motorway.

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And it's just... It's just unnecessary, really.

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It's been a busy late shift and it's far from over.

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Nearly 100 miles north of the A1's end point

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is the Cairngorms National Park.

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The hills and valleys of this stunning countryside are home to

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Britain's only free-ranging herd of reindeer.

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But they don't stay here all year.

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In the run-up to Christmas,

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they regularly leave home to attend events across the country and when

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they need to head south, their number one route is the A1.

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It's now November and a herd of Scottish reindeer is halfway through

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an epic journey down the A1 to their first Christmas event of the season.

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The boys have had a nice time relaxing overnight.

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They've had their breakfast. We're just going for a little stretch of

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the legs before we load them.

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We always do when we're travelling them.

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Look, just stop it.

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Goodness, boys. Honestly.

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Come on.

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This is the busiest time of the year for handlers Hen and Andi.

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-Good boys.

-They'll spend the next two weeks travelling up and down the

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A1 showing their reindeer...

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Look, stop it.

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..if they can get this boisterous bunch under control.

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This is Minute in my left hand, just here.

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He is four years old, and Beastie, who is just shaking his head,

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he is six years old, and Knock.

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Knock is only six months old, so it's his very first time going

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away and doing a couple of Christmas events.

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It's all new for him but the old boys have done it all before.

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Today, the six reindeer have to travel a further 80 miles to

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Santa's Grotto at Stockeld Park near Wetherby.

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They're set to be the star attraction,

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so Hen and Andi are keen to get on the road.

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You often get this expression of pure delight when people see the

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reindeer for the first time and they really are the spirit of Christmas.

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Seeing the reindeer, they're like, "Oh, Christmas is coming, Santa is here."

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It's really good fun. It's nice to spread a little bit of joy.

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Hundreds of visitors are expected, so it's important to give the

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reindeer a chance to settle before the big parade.

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We've got plenty of time for the journey.

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We always work out how long it should take us and then add quite a

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bit of time because you never want to be arriving late at an event in

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a rush because that rubs off on the reindeer as well.

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Hen and Andi join the A1 near Gateshead.

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Other drivers have no idea the spirit of Christmas is sharing the

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road, and, being a straight stretch,

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the A1 ensures the reindeer can have a smooth journey.

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They travel really well. You don't want them tied up like you do with

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a horse because of the risk of them catching their antlers in the rope.

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So, to be honest, they've got the easy job.

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Andi's got the harder work of driving today.

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We've just passed a sign for Scotch Corner.

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We've got to hope there is no problems on the A1.

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It all seems to be flowing nicely at the moment.

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I've got my road map. If there is any problems and it's going to hold us

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up too much, we will take a wee detour and get ourselves...

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We've got to make sure we get there in plenty of time so the reindeer

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have got time to relax.

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All flowing very nicely so far.

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Nice roads this morning.

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But has Hen spoken too soon?

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Oh, roadworks.

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Delays possible.

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With spectators expecting to see Santa's reindeer,

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will the herd make it to the show on time or will they miss their big moment?

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For Northumbria Police, the A1 is the main road in their area.

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One of those tasked with patrolling it is PC Alan Keenleyside.

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And tonight, his shift begins under the shadow of the North-East's

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most iconic landmark.

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There was some real issues when it was first put up that it may cause

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collisions by people looking at it, you know,

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but thankfully it hasn't been the case.

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Tonight, one of the busiest sections of the A1 around the city is

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being shut for maintenance.

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It's vital drivers abide by the rules to ensure the safety of the

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workers on the carriageway.

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To protect the road workers, the speed limit has been reduced to 50.

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But there are some drivers who seem

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to think the limit doesn't apply to them.

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Two cars have just sped past.

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The vehicle appears to be travelling above the speed limit, so we'll

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now progress after the vehicle, see if we can perform a speed check.

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One of the cars has pulled off at a slip road, but Alan is still

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pursuing the second driver.

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He suspects the two cars could have been racing.

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He's actually pulled into the slow lane,

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so I don't know if he's been rumbled or he's going off here.

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As soon as the driver sees Alan's blue lights,

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he pulls off the A1 and stops his car.

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So, we'll have a stop and see what he wants to say for himself.

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I'm sitting on the slip road monitoring traffic speeds and

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everyone's doing 50, and then you two drive past like that.

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Not acceptable, buddy.

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-What's the craic? Be honest.

-I don't know him.

-I'm not saying you do.

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-No, no.

-You were going quite fast. I've recorded your speed at 61mph.

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All right? So if your average speed there was 61, what was your average

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speed when you were driving after that black car that went off,

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before I even started you on the speed check?

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It was higher than that. It was higher than that.

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Alan radios control.

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'Checking through the record, there's no stops and no points.'

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The driver's got a clean licence, but that could be about to change.

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Alan decides to show the driver his in-car recording of the incident.

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What I want you to do, when I press play,

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is look how fast these cars are going. All right?

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I want you to see what 50mph looks like. All right? See the car there?

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-Yeah.

-50mph?

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And there's you two.

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I'm going to warn you for your manner of driving tonight,

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on the grounds that you certainly

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wouldn't drive like that on your driving test,

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and if you did, you wouldn't be passing, all right?

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OK, I'll write this out for you and I'll give

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you your licence back and you'll be all right to go on your way.

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Warning the driver gives Alan more time to carry out further

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investigations to establish exactly how far over the limit the

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motorist was going.

0:18:300:18:32

-Look after yourself. Drive carefully, man.

-I will do.

-See ya.

0:18:340:18:38

For now, the driver is free to go,

0:18:390:18:41

but he'll be hearing more from Alan once he's finished his investigation.

0:18:410:18:45

Without doubt, the biggest hazard for drivers on the A1 is other motorists.

0:18:490:18:54

Every year, there are more than 200 cases of death by careless driving

0:18:540:18:58

on Britain's roads.

0:18:580:19:01

Highways England's CCTV system has captured many incidents...

0:19:010:19:05

..like this case of a motorist who appears to be deliberately driving

0:19:060:19:10

through a set of cones on a section of the highway just near to

0:19:100:19:14

Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire.

0:19:140:19:16

The driver continues down a closed-off section of the road,

0:19:160:19:19

before he's stopped by workmen, and arrested by police.

0:19:190:19:23

A decision was later taken not to charge the driver with any offence.

0:19:240:19:28

It's an extreme example, but he's not the only culprit.

0:19:290:19:32

To the north of Newcastle, PC Darren Lant is on a mission to

0:19:330:19:37

crack down on the A1's careless drivers.

0:19:370:19:40

There's different levels of careless, isn't there?

0:19:400:19:43

There's something that's just a momentary lapse,

0:19:430:19:45

that doesn't necessarily mean you're a bad driver,

0:19:450:19:47

it just means at that particular time you've had a momentary lapse and

0:19:470:19:50

done something that you shouldn't have. But then you've got the top

0:19:500:19:53

end of careless driver, which is bordering on dangerous driving, as well.

0:19:530:19:56

It's now almost 10am,

0:19:580:20:00

and a driver has performed an extremely dangerous manoeuvre,

0:20:000:20:03

just yards in front of Darren's patrol car.

0:20:030:20:06

This guy, here, was clearly travelling north on the A1,

0:20:080:20:11

and then suddenly decided he wanted to be off at the last minute...

0:20:110:20:14

..and then shot across the solid white line of the hatched areas

0:20:150:20:20

which are there.

0:20:200:20:21

The solid line's there to stop people doing that.

0:20:210:20:23

It's a hazard area.

0:20:230:20:24

He came off at such a rapid pace, he was lucky not to lose control.

0:20:250:20:30

So we're going to stop this gentleman and have a quick chat with him.

0:20:300:20:33

On the A1, it's momentary decisions like this which can change lives.

0:20:330:20:37

-Good morning, sir.

-Morning.

-I can only assume that you missed your

0:20:420:20:45

exit, or you thought you were going to miss it, which is why you shot

0:20:450:20:47

across at the last minute?

0:20:470:20:49

I remembered at the last second at the lights in Morpeth.

0:20:490:20:51

All right, OK. Come and have a chat with me about two seconds in

0:20:510:20:54

the car, please.

0:20:540:20:55

Careless driving puts all other motorists at risk.

0:20:550:20:58

It's an offence police take very seriously.

0:20:580:21:01

I'm going to caution you.

0:21:010:21:02

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

0:21:020:21:05

don't mention when questioned something which you later rely on in

0:21:050:21:08

court, and anything you do say may be given in evidence.

0:21:080:21:10

You're not under arrest, OK? A lot of people hear that and think

0:21:100:21:13

they're arrested. You're not. OK?

0:21:130:21:14

However, the way you're driving there today,

0:21:140:21:16

I'm sure you've probably just been watching it there,

0:21:160:21:19

is clearly not of the standard required, OK?

0:21:190:21:21

It was quite clearly a case of careless driving.

0:21:240:21:26

This guy, here, OK, you've cut across the front of him,

0:21:260:21:31

at around about 65, 70mph, you've cut in front of him,

0:21:310:21:34

and you've entered the solid white line, you've entered the hatchings,

0:21:340:21:37

then come out again, all right?

0:21:370:21:39

In extreme cases, those found guilty of careless driving can receive

0:21:390:21:43

disqualification and an unlimited fine.

0:21:430:21:46

I'm going to issue you with what's called a verbal notice of intended prosecution. OK?

0:21:460:21:50

You don't have to say anything, but as I say, you've been cautioned,

0:21:500:21:52

but I'm going to report you for consideration for the question of

0:21:520:21:55

prosecuting you for the offence of careless driving, all right?

0:21:550:21:58

So, you understand why I've stopped you?

0:21:580:21:59

OK, no problem. What we'll do is we'll let you out,

0:21:590:22:02

and you'll get some paperwork through the post in a couple of

0:22:020:22:04

days' time or so, OK?

0:22:040:22:06

OK, watch your way on out, take care.

0:22:100:22:12

He admits that his driving was wrong,

0:22:120:22:15

it was below the standard required, and that it was a stupid thing to do.

0:22:150:22:19

He remembered at the last moment that there's a set of traffic

0:22:190:22:22

lights up in Morpeth to where he is headed,

0:22:220:22:25

and in order to try and avoid the traffic lights,

0:22:250:22:27

he thought he would come off and come up this road,

0:22:270:22:29

which is why he has pulled aggressively in front of that car,

0:22:290:22:32

and shot across the solid white lines.

0:22:320:22:36

To say how severe is it? It's on a sliding scale.

0:22:360:22:39

That case, there, I think that's pretty bad.

0:22:390:22:42

I think that incident, there, is pretty bad.

0:22:420:22:45

We've got the wet roads, we've got the damp roads, you know,

0:22:450:22:48

and he's travelling at speed, and he's made a very violent

0:22:480:22:50

manoeuvre in front of another car and across a solid white line.

0:22:500:22:53

It could've quite easily gone drastically wrong,

0:22:530:22:55

he could have lost control, so I think that's quite a severe case of

0:22:550:22:58

careless driving, that one.

0:22:580:23:00

This driver is likely to be summoned to appear at his local magistrate's.

0:23:020:23:06

It will be up to the courts to decide the right penalty to impose.

0:23:070:23:10

In Doncaster, traffic officers Rob Larkin and Paul Day are battling

0:23:210:23:25

treacherous conditions on the A1.

0:23:250:23:27

Now they've been sent to check on an abandoned van.

0:23:300:23:32

But it looks more like a job for Mulder and Scully.

0:23:340:23:37

There could be a number of explanations why the van is here.

0:23:390:23:42

One possibility is that it's been used to commit a crime, then dumped.

0:23:420:23:47

But whatever the reason, it poses a danger to other motorists.

0:23:470:23:52

So Paul radios his control centre to run a check on the vehicle.

0:23:520:23:55

Alpha Charlie Echo 13, can I get a PNC on this vehicle, please?

0:23:550:24:01

It is abandoned.

0:24:010:24:02

It's locked secure and it's displaying hazards,

0:24:040:24:07

but it is on the narrow hard shoulder, over.

0:24:070:24:11

A few minutes later, though,

0:24:110:24:12

Paul finds the mystery has a more down-to-earth explanation.

0:24:120:24:17

I can see somebody walking back down now with a can of fuel.

0:24:170:24:20

-Hiya, boss.

-Sorry.

0:24:220:24:24

No, no problem.

0:24:240:24:26

We're just waiting to see... What do you need?

0:24:260:24:28

It's OK. Is it your vehicle?

0:24:290:24:32

-Yeah.

-Yeah, just out of fuel?

0:24:320:24:34

OK.

0:24:340:24:36

Every year, around 8,000 drivers run out of fuel on major roads in England.

0:24:360:24:41

-OK?

-Yeah.

0:24:410:24:42

It's a common problem but it carries a huge risk.

0:24:420:24:46

The hard shoulder of the A1 is a precarious place to be.

0:24:460:24:50

This is quite a regular occurrence, big van, run out of fuel,

0:24:500:24:53

people trying to get to the fuel station.

0:24:530:24:55

Although he's on the hard shoulder, as you can see now,

0:24:560:25:00

they're all slowing down to have a look.

0:25:000:25:02

You know, it's not the best place in the world.

0:25:020:25:05

But at least now he has fuel, he can be on his way but it seems

0:25:050:25:08

this driver's not just run out of fuel, he's also run out of luck.

0:25:080:25:14

Battery's flat.

0:25:180:25:19

The driver, Robert, is having problems with his phone, too,

0:25:200:25:24

but Paul helps him out.

0:25:240:25:25

HE SPEAKS IN OWN LANGUAGE

0:25:250:25:27

-OK?

-Yeah.

0:25:290:25:31

OK.

0:25:350:25:36

There's a bit of a language barrier, so what I'm going to try and do is

0:25:360:25:40

give him a few minutes just to organise some recovery

0:25:400:25:42

or a friend to come, then I'm going to take his details,

0:25:420:25:45

pass it to our control room,

0:25:450:25:46

who will then phone him up and make sure.

0:25:460:25:48

That gives us the opportunity to leave.

0:25:480:25:51

We then tag it for a timescale to come back to it

0:25:510:25:54

to make sure it's gone.

0:25:540:25:55

Hopefully, it'll be all sorted.

0:25:570:25:58

I'm going to give you two hours to shift it, yeah?

0:26:010:26:06

Two hours to move the car.

0:26:060:26:10

No, no, it's OK, just so you know.

0:26:100:26:11

I'm just telling you what we have to do.

0:26:110:26:14

If after two hours this hasn't gone, I'm going to have it moved, OK? Yes?

0:26:140:26:21

It can be a bit problematic at the side of the road just getting

0:26:210:26:25

your point across, and plus, certain foreign nationals are a bit

0:26:250:26:29

nervous of the fact of a uniformed presence being here.

0:26:290:26:33

We try to be as sympathetic as possible,

0:26:340:26:36

but you've got to get your point across, yeah?

0:26:360:26:38

Just put this on.

0:26:390:26:41

OK.

0:26:430:26:44

In situations like this, Highways England's advice is that it's safer

0:26:440:26:48

to stand away from a vehicle and the hard shoulder.

0:26:480:26:52

OK? Two hours, yeah?

0:26:520:26:54

Stay out.

0:26:540:26:55

Right. Happy.

0:26:560:26:57

A couple of hours later,

0:27:020:27:04

Rob and Paul are back to check on Robert and his stricken van.

0:27:040:27:07

They're hoping his friend has turned up with jump leads to start the

0:27:090:27:12

vehicle, but they're prepared for the worst.

0:27:120:27:15

He was on the tiger tail, wasn't he?

0:27:150:27:17

-Yeah, he was, just right on it where it splits.

-He's gone.

0:27:170:27:20

I can't believe it, he's gone.

0:27:200:27:22

-I would never...

-No.

0:27:220:27:24

I thought that was going to be there for good, that one.

0:27:240:27:28

With the stricken van moved, it's a good result for Paul and Rob,

0:27:280:27:32

and it means the A1 is now a much safer place to drive tonight.

0:27:320:27:36

He's done everything we've asked of him, he's recovered his vehicle,

0:27:360:27:39

everybody's happy, nobody's crashed into anybody, cones and lights,

0:27:390:27:42

away we go.

0:27:420:27:44

Just south of Scotch Corner,

0:27:520:27:54

Santa's reindeer are nearing their final destination.

0:27:540:27:57

The herd is en route to its first Christmas event of the season near

0:28:000:28:04

Wetherby, nearly 350 miles from their home in the Cairngorms in Scotland.

0:28:040:28:09

Junction 46, we're coming off at.

0:28:090:28:11

They'll spend the next two weeks travelling to shows up and down the country.

0:28:120:28:17

We are very old-fashioned, and we just use road maps,

0:28:180:28:21

rather than iPads or sat navs or anything like that.

0:28:210:28:24

I feel you can't really go wrong with a road map.

0:28:240:28:26

It's not going to lie to you, you're not going to run out of battery.

0:28:260:28:29

As you'd expect, Santa's reindeer are well travelled,

0:28:310:28:34

and spend a lot of time on the A1.

0:28:340:28:36

I think I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with going on tour.

0:28:380:28:41

I usually dread it, and then when I'm actually away, I quite enjoy it.

0:28:410:28:46

Four miles off the A1 is a real winter wonderland - Stockeld Park.

0:28:460:28:51

Like many businesses,

0:28:510:28:53

the attraction relies on the Great North Road for a large number of its

0:28:530:28:56

visitors, especially during the run-up to Christmas.

0:28:560:29:00

Now, after a journey on the Great North Pole Road, spanning two days,

0:29:000:29:05

the stars of Santa's parade have arrived.

0:29:050:29:07

-Hiya. Nice to meet you.

-Are you all right?

0:29:070:29:09

Whereabouts are we going with the reindeer?

0:29:090:29:11

We're going in that pen, there. Perfect.

0:29:110:29:13

Are you going to need anything from us while they're in the pen?

0:29:130:29:16

Cup of tea!

0:29:160:29:17

LAUGHTER

0:29:170:29:18

-I can get you a cup of tea.

-Reindeer will probably be all right.

-Awesome.

0:29:180:29:21

So if you want to start that, I'll go and get you both a cup of tea.

0:29:210:29:24

-Thank you very much.

-No problem.

-And it's 12pm, isn't it,

0:29:240:29:26

-that the reindeer are on display from?

-Yeah.

-Yep, perfect.

0:29:260:29:29

The reindeer can now get used to their surroundings.

0:29:290:29:31

It's pretty heavy, pretty heavy.

0:29:310:29:33

But there's no rest for Hen and Andi.

0:29:330:29:34

And now, with everything in place...

0:29:400:29:42

..the reindeer can finally stretch their legs...

0:29:430:29:45

So we're just going to have a wee jog around with them.

0:29:500:29:53

Come on, boys.

0:29:530:29:55

..and some are more eager than others.

0:29:580:30:00

Every reindeer is different.

0:30:030:30:05

You get your confident ones, your shy ones,

0:30:050:30:07

and Nutkins is our crazy boy.

0:30:070:30:09

He's a great fun reindeer to have around,

0:30:100:30:12

but he always has to do everything at 100mph.

0:30:120:30:17

He doesn't do anything sensibly or slowly.

0:30:170:30:19

Goodness, boys. Honestly!

0:30:200:30:22

They generally respect us as their sort of leaders when we're away.

0:30:220:30:26

Minute, are you coming?

0:30:260:30:28

Sometimes they don't at all. Sometimes they ignore us!

0:30:300:30:32

Oh, wow, look at this, Erin! He's lovely, isn't he?

0:30:340:30:38

In just over an hour, the reindeer will perform as part of Santa's parade.

0:30:400:30:44

And whilst the older reindeer have had lots of practice...

0:30:460:30:49

And the baby one's behind him, look.

0:30:490:30:51

..the two calves have never been out in public before.

0:30:510:30:55

Basic training starts when they're sort of about five months old,

0:30:550:30:57

but for the first five months of their lives,

0:30:570:30:59

they were just free-ranging out on the mountains at home,

0:30:590:31:02

looking after themselves with their mums.

0:31:020:31:04

Our two calves, as yet, you know,

0:31:040:31:06

we're still working out their personalities.

0:31:060:31:08

I think Spartan is going to be quite a quiet, reserved sort of character.

0:31:080:31:13

Knock is a little bit more sort of twitchy,

0:31:130:31:15

so he's probably going to be a bit more of a live wire, as it were.

0:31:150:31:18

And that's not the only worry.

0:31:190:31:21

This is the most common month for the older reindeer to shed their antlers.

0:31:210:31:25

Good boy.

0:31:250:31:27

And that could be a little awkward.

0:31:270:31:29

He could lose his antlers at any time.

0:31:300:31:31

He could shake his head, and his antlers could fly off right now,

0:31:310:31:34

and it has happened before, which is always slightly embarrassing.

0:31:340:31:37

But hopefully, hopefully he will hold them until after Christmas,

0:31:370:31:40

until his work is done!

0:31:400:31:42

Bye!

0:31:420:31:43

More than 80 miles north, in Newcastle,

0:31:490:31:51

patrol officer PC Alan Keenleyside is continuing his investigations

0:31:510:31:56

into a driver who was speeding towards roadworks along the A1.

0:31:560:32:01

-That's him there.

-That's the little red car, yeah.

0:32:010:32:03

By working with the Newcastle CCTV team,

0:32:030:32:06

they're able to calculate the length of time the driver was on the A1.

0:32:060:32:09

-A picture paints a thousand words.

-Yeah.

0:32:100:32:13

Alan's also retracing the car's journey

0:32:130:32:16

so he can precisely measure the distance the driver travelled.

0:32:160:32:19

3,821 metres.

0:32:200:32:23

Back at the station, it's time to piece together all of the evidence.

0:32:260:32:30

Four minutes 40 at that distance is 49mph.

0:32:310:32:36

Two minutes 54 is clearly going to be a lot quicker,

0:32:360:32:40

so let's run two minutes 54 into the equation.

0:32:400:32:42

And that gives an average speed of 79.0344mph.

0:32:450:32:50

With the motorist confirmed to be nearly 30mph over the speed

0:32:520:32:56

limit, Alan's heading to speak to him about what action he intends to take.

0:32:560:33:01

If we prosecute this driver through the courts or through the

0:33:010:33:04

fixed-penalty system, this driver's going to lose his licence.

0:33:040:33:07

We've timed your vehicle, and you are going quick.

0:33:130:33:17

Your average speed I've calculated at 79mph...

0:33:170:33:19

-All right.

-..in a 50.

0:33:210:33:23

One more mile an hour and you probably would have ended up

0:33:230:33:26

in court at that, all right?

0:33:260:33:27

Because the driver has shown remorse,

0:33:280:33:30

Alan has decided a more lenient penalty is needed on this occasion.

0:33:300:33:35

This here is your offer of a course.

0:33:360:33:40

It's an educational course, all right?

0:33:400:33:43

And it's for careless driving, for changing attitudes. All right?

0:33:430:33:47

But go on the course, have the right attitude, learn from it, all right?

0:33:470:33:51

And come out of it a better driver. All right?

0:33:510:33:54

Being pulled over was, like, a shock, to be honest, but,

0:33:570:33:59

to be fair, I got caught. It's me driving like an idiot.

0:33:590:34:05

Like he said, if I was doing one mile an hour over,

0:34:050:34:08

then it would have been a court sentence, and I've accepted it,

0:34:080:34:10

like. It's my own fault.

0:34:100:34:13

Alan hopes it's the wake-up call this young driver needed.

0:34:130:34:16

He has shown remorse to me there. Yeah,

0:34:180:34:19

I really think I've made the right decision there, and as long as

0:34:190:34:24

he goes on that course, he'll be staying out of court.

0:34:240:34:27

If I can keep him safe and keep other members of the public safe

0:34:270:34:30

for using the A1 and the other roads in the area, then I've done my job.

0:34:300:34:33

One of the biggest causes of accidents on the A1 is mobile phone use.

0:34:420:34:46

It's a potentially lethal distraction for all drivers.

0:34:470:34:51

In 2015, nearly 17,000 drivers were given on-the-spot fines

0:34:510:34:55

for the offence on Britain's roads.

0:34:550:34:59

In Northumbria, police have joined up with a national campaign to crack

0:34:590:35:03

down on this crime.

0:35:030:35:04

On the A1, just north of Newcastle, PC Darren Lant is on patrol.

0:35:040:35:10

I'm just tootling along here, just looking at the drivers on my right,

0:35:100:35:13

just to see if anybody is doing anything they shouldn't be,

0:35:130:35:16

on their phones, social media, playing with iPhones, iPads,

0:35:160:35:20

Kindles, all that sort of stuff.

0:35:200:35:23

Offenders can now receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine,

0:35:240:35:29

but in serious cases, the driver can be taken to court,

0:35:290:35:32

disqualified and fined £1,000.

0:35:320:35:36

What we don't want is someone playing on their phone not to see

0:35:360:35:40

the traffic in front - they've come to a stop -

0:35:400:35:42

and have a repeat of what happened first thing this morning.

0:35:420:35:45

It's still not sinking in to some drivers.

0:35:460:35:49

And Darren knows all the tricks.

0:35:500:35:53

What you'll probably see is, as we drive along,

0:35:530:35:56

is someone who's got their phone up to their ear,

0:35:560:36:01

when they see the police, they kind of just drop the phone,

0:36:010:36:03

and they give the scratch of their ear.

0:36:030:36:05

It's not just talking and texting that can be dangerous.

0:36:080:36:11

Darren's spotted a BMW driver whose phone is in full view,

0:36:110:36:15

which can be a real issue.

0:36:150:36:17

He's got his sat nav, he's using his phone as a sat nav,

0:36:170:36:20

which is not a problem, but where he's got it, if you have a look...

0:36:200:36:24

How on earth can he see straight ahead?

0:36:260:36:28

That sat nav is in the most ridiculous position.

0:36:300:36:34

So what I'll do is I'll just pull in behind him,

0:36:340:36:37

and we'll have a chat with him.

0:36:370:36:38

Hello, my friend, how are you? Is this your car?

0:36:450:36:47

-Yes.

-Have you got your driving licence?

0:36:470:36:49

OK, your sat nav, you cannot have it there, OK?

0:36:520:36:57

You haven't got full view ahead, OK, you cannot see clear ahead.

0:36:580:37:02

That's in the wrong place. You need that down here, OK?

0:37:020:37:05

Or tucked over here, but where it is, you can't...

0:37:050:37:08

Yeah, and you're going to have to take that off there, as well.

0:37:080:37:11

OK, give me two moments to do a couple of checks, OK?

0:37:110:37:14

After radioing the control room, the checks reveal everything is in order,

0:37:190:37:24

so Darren opts for a more lenient approach.

0:37:240:37:28

He's a genuine guy, we're not in the business of persecuting people,

0:37:280:37:31

contrary to what the reputation of traffic officers are.

0:37:310:37:34

We're not real big ogres, we're not here to do that.

0:37:340:37:36

He's got a nice, new clean licence,

0:37:360:37:39

I don't want to tarnish that just for something which could've been

0:37:390:37:41

rectified straight away, which he's done.

0:37:410:37:44

So I'm going to have another quick chat with him and send him on his way.

0:37:440:37:47

But Darren does have some clear words of advice about keeping a

0:37:470:37:50

clear view in future.

0:37:500:37:52

You know where your windscreen wiper goes?

0:37:520:37:54

-Yes.

-Nothing in there, OK?

0:37:540:37:56

So anywhere where your wiper goes, nothing in there, OK?

0:37:560:38:02

-All right.

-OK, no problem. Take care now.

0:38:020:38:04

Sat navs on your phone, yeah, it's perfectly fine, it's not a problem.

0:38:060:38:10

The only issue is where you site it, and when you're using it.

0:38:100:38:14

60 miles south of Newcastle near Wetherby in West Yorkshire.

0:38:200:38:24

After a 340-mile road trip, taking in the A1,

0:38:260:38:30

these Scottish reindeer and their handlers, Andi and Hen,

0:38:300:38:33

are gearing up for their first Christmas parade of the season.

0:38:330:38:37

I think it's time to get the sleigh out.

0:38:370:38:39

Just four miles from the A1 in Wetherby, Stockeld Park is the

0:38:410:38:45

setting for the much-anticipated Santa's sleigh ride.

0:38:450:38:48

One of the misconceptions people have often about reindeer is people

0:38:500:38:53

think they're a mythical animal, and they don't exist,

0:38:530:38:56

so they get a huge surprise when they find several reindeer walking

0:38:560:38:59

-round the corner towards them.

-It's quite unbelievable.

0:38:590:39:01

I've had the sort of people in their mid-20s coming up to me,

0:39:010:39:05

and just not, like, not believing that these are actually reindeer.

0:39:050:39:09

After Andi and Hen have put the final touches on Santa's sleigh,

0:39:100:39:14

all they need now is the reindeer to get into character.

0:39:140:39:17

All right, Spider, time to do some work.

0:39:170:39:20

Two of the most experienced reindeer have been given the prestigious

0:39:200:39:24

task of pulling Santa's sleigh.

0:39:240:39:27

This wooden collar just sits nicely over his neck.

0:39:270:39:30

And whilst one is happy in his harness,

0:39:300:39:33

his friend is not so sure.

0:39:330:39:35

You see Minute's just having a bit of a shake, here,

0:39:350:39:38

he's a really ticklish reindeer.

0:39:380:39:40

He's off!

0:39:400:39:42

LAUGHTER

0:39:420:39:44

Good boy.

0:39:440:39:47

Finally, the older reindeer are ready to be harnessed to the sleigh.

0:39:470:39:52

Minute!

0:39:520:39:53

I've got his antler caught in my jumper.

0:39:530:39:55

It's always one of those jobs where you wish that you had, like,

0:39:550:40:00

three hands, rather than two.

0:40:000:40:01

It might just take these guys a couple of minutes just to settle down.

0:40:030:40:06

The first time for them for the year.

0:40:060:40:08

With the parade due to begin in a matter of minutes,

0:40:100:40:14

and the crowds gathering...

0:40:140:40:15

Are you excited to see Santa Claus?

0:40:150:40:18

..it's time for the reindeer to collect the main man.

0:40:200:40:22

OK, mums and dads, boys and girls, get ready, and are we all ready?

0:40:220:40:25

-ALL:

-Yes!

-Oh, that's not loud enough, are we all ready to see Santa?

0:40:250:40:30

-ALL:

-Yeah!

0:40:300:40:32

Hello, Santa!

0:40:330:40:34

Santa!

0:40:390:40:40

He's coming!

0:40:410:40:42

More than 200 people have lined up to see the parade.

0:40:450:40:48

Give Santa a big cheer and a wave!

0:40:480:40:50

The reindeer need to be on their very best behaviour.

0:40:500:40:53

Minute!

0:40:560:40:57

Just walk!

0:40:580:40:59

Stop pulling!

0:41:010:41:02

After an uncertain start, as they head into the woods,

0:41:030:41:07

they soon get into their stride.

0:41:070:41:09

MUSIC: Jingle Bells

0:41:090:41:12

It's all going very well.

0:41:140:41:16

Andi keeps giving me the nod to say they're all OK.

0:41:160:41:18

-They're being very well behaved.

-Santa! Santa!

0:41:180:41:21

Oh, it's really rewarding, because you know it's another one for them,

0:41:210:41:25

they'll gain in confidence for it as well,

0:41:250:41:27

especially for the first one of the season.

0:41:270:41:29

Good boy.

0:41:290:41:30

You couldn't not be proud of them, really,

0:41:300:41:32

so different from their home environment up in the mountains.

0:41:320:41:35

Half an hour later...

0:41:370:41:38

Whoa, boys.

0:41:390:41:41

..the parade is over.

0:41:410:41:42

So these boys were setting quite a pace,

0:41:440:41:46

so we were marching along a little bit faster than we normally do,

0:41:460:41:48

but Beastie here is quite keen, so that's one under their belts,

0:41:480:41:52

quite literally under their Christmas belts.

0:41:520:41:54

Aren't they awesome? They're great.

0:41:540:41:56

The babies have done really well today, they were very well behaved,

0:41:590:42:02

very calm, very relaxed.

0:42:020:42:04

To be honest, they've just been copying the adults,

0:42:040:42:07

and it's been absolutely fine, which is great.

0:42:070:42:09

This is the first time that they've ever been out at an event,

0:42:090:42:12

and if they can do that well on their first time, yeah,

0:42:120:42:14

I think that bodes really well for the future.

0:42:140:42:17

Home time, boys.

0:42:170:42:20

Days like this make the long journey south all worthwhile for Hen and

0:42:200:42:24

Andi, and after loading up, they'll be back on the A1,

0:42:240:42:27

ready to do it all again tomorrow.

0:42:270:42:30

No further action was taken against the female driver who caused the

0:42:350:42:38

accident near Newcastle.

0:42:380:42:41

The motorist who was stopped for careless driving on the A1 near

0:42:410:42:44

Morpeth ended up attending a driver improvement course.

0:42:440:42:48

And Santa's reindeer spent the rest of the festive period travelling up

0:42:480:42:51

and down the A1, including a visit to the road's

0:42:510:42:54

most northerly point - Edinburgh.

0:42:540:42:56

Next time, a rush-hour breakdown puts lives on the line...

0:42:580:43:02

The effects of hitting a wagon at 40, 50, 60mph can be fatal.

0:43:020:43:07

..a deadly disruption as a collapsed power line closes the A1...

0:43:070:43:11

And the pole's either been struck by lightning or it's been hit and

0:43:110:43:14

it's collapsed.

0:43:140:43:17

..and after a 240-mile journey north...

0:43:170:43:21

will bad weather sabotage Sunderland's sea-front spectacular?

0:43:210:43:24

I've rigged in some pretty bad conditions,

0:43:240:43:26

but I think this is the worst I've ever seen.

0:43:260:43:28

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.


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