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Driver ignored warning lights

PUBLISHED: 10:56 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:18 05 July 2010

A motorist drove over a level crossing as the barriers were coming down for an approaching train, a court has heard.

Andrew Coleman, 47, went under the barriers while the red warning lights flashed on the crossing at Bridge Road, Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft.

A motorist drove over a level crossing as the barriers were coming down for an approaching train, a court has heard.

Andrew Coleman, 47, went under the barriers while the red warning lights flashed on the crossing at Bridge Road, Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft.

He was initially charged with dangerous driving, which he denied, but appeared before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday to admit a lesser charge of careless driving on January 25.

Coleman, of Gorleston Road, Lowestoft, was fined £250, ordered to pay £55 costs and had four penalty points added to his licence.

Prosecutor Robert Sadd said despite flashing red lights to indicate an approaching train, Coleman overtook a stationary car and drove under the barriers as they were coming down.

However, Mr Sadd also admitted that after looking at the evidence, the defendant's driving could not be classed as “dangerous” and was instead “careless”.

The case came just weeks after the British Transport Police revealed an increasing number of motorists were driving under falling level crossing barriers at Oulton Broad North.

In mitigation, Stephen Dyble said Coleman lived a short distance away from the level crossing and had a good degree of local knowledge about the layout of the road.

“There was no suggestion he was driving badly,” he told the court. “The car in front said he was keeping an appropriate distance and there is nothing to indicate he was in a hurry. The defendant made an assumption that he now knows was wrong.”

Mr Dyble said his client thought the car in front was going to stop at the side of the road and so decided to overtake and carry on over the crossing.

“The barriers go down three or four minutes before the train arrives. Although the red light was on there was very little danger of there being a collision,” he said. “Mr Coleman accepts he made an error of judgement, but in the circumstances he did what he thought was best.”

Recorder Gerard Pounder, who also ordered Coleman to pay £55 costs, said: “You took a risk. I know you say you know that junction and you know it well, but the reality is that local knowledge is what it is - sometimes things don't work out in the way you expect that they will.

“The barriers come down quite quickly as the lights start to flash and there is always a risk of the motor car stalling and then you find yourself trapped between the two barriers. Of course you don't have to think too hard about the consequences of a train colliding with a vehicle.”

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