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Level crossing dangers warning

PUBLISHED: 10:41 08 December 2008 | UPDATED: 21:58 05 July 2010

A magistrate has spoken out about the scourge of dangerous driving at a level crossing, near Lowestoft, after hearing how a man drove around the falling barriers as a train approached.

A magistrate has spoken out about the scourge of dangerous driving at a level crossing, near Lowestoft, after hearing how a man drove around the falling barriers as a train approached.

Lowestoft Magistrates' Court heard on Friday how 23-year-old Michael Fox pulled out from a queue of traffic and “zigzagged” around the barriers at Oulton Broad North crossing.

It was the latest in a high number of such incidents at Oulton Broad, prompting magistrate Graham Denny to issue a warning to impatient motorists.

He said: “This is something that seems to happen quite frequently and is considered extremely dangerous. It has to be discouraged because of consequences of a car being hit on a level crossing are extremely serious.”

Earlier this year, the British Transport Police said a growing number of drivers were failing to take heed of the warning lights at Oulton Broad North.

Three motorists were caught ignoring the warnings of an oncoming train during just one

week in August, while there were 28 convictions for drivers who failed to stop in the previous year.

Fox, of Cowslip Crescent, Lowestoft, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at a previous hearing and appeared in court

on Friday for sentencing. He was banned from driving for 12 months, ordered to carry out 260 hours of unpaid work in

the community and told to pay £60 costs. He will also have to take an extended driving test at the end of his ban.

Mr Denny told Fox he would have been facing an immediate jail sentence if he had not pleaded guilty to the offence.

The court heard how Fox committed the offence in his Rover car between 11.30am and noon on August 7.

Prosecutor Colette Griffiths said the signal operator at Oulton Broad North was told a train was about to pass through the crossing.

“The amber and red lights were working correctly and the barriers were coming down,” added Mrs Griffiths.

“A witness saw the defendant pull out from behind the vehicles that had stopped and the driver zigzagged around the descending barriers.”

In police interview, Fox claimed he had been the subject of threats stretching back several months and was being pursued

when he decided to drive over the crossing.

Wayne Clarke, for Fox, said: “He made a very serious error of judgment. He does confirm that he was frightened of the people behind him. He realises he should have stopped and called for help.”

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