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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 69790
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I have received a letter of offence contrary to the RTA 1988:

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I have received a letter of offence contrary to the RTA 1988: a) Careless and Inconsiderate Driving" and "Failing to comply with Traffic Signal/Signs - "Vehicle Failed to Stop at Red Lights at Level Crossing". A train had just passed and a long queue of traffic was proceeding. At the front of my part of a queue about 12 vehicles was a tractor and the traffic in front was braking and then going on. Therefore my attention was taken by the car in front. On approaching the crossing, I then noticed XXXXX XXXXXghts on the other side of the road (the crossing is at an angle that goes away from you to the right). I took the decision, as I was taught, that it safer to cross than try to stop (the lights had not changed to red on entering the crossing). I therefore went across. There was a video camera on the other side of the road and this will be the evidence the BT Police have. I was well clear of the crossing when the barriers came down, although I am well aware that red lights are on a reasonable time before they do. I look forward to your advice.

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

How can I help with this?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I wonder what my likely fine/points would be in this situation and if what I explained above would be mitigating circumstances for the police not to implement this. I work in the Health & Safety arena myself and so I take this seriously, but I feel that I acted correctly in this circumstance. I was not expecting another train so quickly after the barriers had gone up, normally the barriers would stay down for both trains. Therefore given the queue headed by a tractor my attention was on the vehicles in front especially the one directly in front. How should I write my mitigation in your opinion.


Do you have any other points?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No I do not. I have only had 3 points on my licence once in 1998 for speeding. I have been driving since 1986. I was stopped for speeding on another occasion in approx. 2005, but as it was slightly over the limit, I took a driving course instead and therefore did not take any points.


I just need 10 mins to type out an answer if thats OK?
Actually, just reading over this again, can you explain why it would have caused a collision if you had stopped on amber?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

As my attention was with the vehicles in front and I knew there was also a queue extending behind me, then on seeing the lights on amber I had to make a decision and therefore decided to go ahead rather than brake and risk the vehicle behind me not stopping - at that moment in time I wasn't sure how close the vehicle was behind.

Thanks for the information.

I am sorry but its bad news.

The prohibition upon red light offences arises from S36 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 which you will find here

The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 36.1.(1).(e) which you will find here

sets down that amber alone conveys the same prohibition as the red signal except that ‘as respect any vehicle which is so close to the stop line that it cannot safely be stopped without proceeding beyond the stop line, it shall convey the same indication as the green signal’.

So, in short, you must stop on amber unless doing so would be unsafe. Usually that has been interpreted to mean a vehicle being tailgated. You have to show that it was unsafe to stop to contest a red light offence upon amber.

On the point of the careless driving, they will probably drop that if you offer to plead to the traffic signal offence. They have brought that as an alternative because this is a level crossing.

If they do not then careless driving carries 3-9 points and potential disqualification and a fine of 75-125% of your weekly income.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

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