Bury St Edmunds, United Kingdom: Motorist acquitted following slide on ice

2 Sep

Bury St Edmunds magistrates’ court has found a man not guilty of a charge of driving without care and attention which arose out of a collision with a level crossing barrier. The early morning of January 16th, 2013 saw temperatures of -9 Celsius following snow. It was in these conditions that the motorist slid into a barrier and onto the railway at Haughley level crossing in Suffolk.

The motorist promptly contacted the signaller who was able to stop the train before it arrived at the level crossing. With the train stopped, the car was pushed clear of the railway. A police witness said that the road was treacherous and did not appear to have been treated. With this evidence and nothing that demonstrated the motorist drove in other than a competent manner, the motorist was found not guilty.

A spokesperson for the highways authority is reported as having said that the road over the .level crossing had been treated during the night. However, this case highlights the importance of checking that the treatment had been effective. This is particularly the case when the risk of sliding onto the railway is considered. While the treatment of the approach to the level crossing is clearly that of the highways authority, it is incumbent on the railway infrastructure provider to satisfy itself that the road over a level crossing has been appropriately treated in light of the prevailing weather conditions; or, whether additional temporary controls are needed to protect the safety of road users and those travelling on trains.

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