Watch: Drivers dice with death by weaving through level crossings

A black hatchback is forced to swerve after using Manningtree level while the red lights were flashi

A black hatchback is forced to swerve after using Manningtree level while the red lights were flashing. Picture: NETWORK RAIL - Credit: Archant

Shocking CCTV footage has captured drivers risking their lives – and those of rail travellers – by jumping the gates at the Manningtree and East Gates level crossings within hours of each other.

Cameras installed by Network Rail at the Manningtree railway station and the East Gates level crossing in Colchester caught the vehicles jumping lights and barriers, which could have resulted in tragedies.

The Manningtree incident happened just before 8am on September 10 when a black hatchback drove through the barrier with lights flashing and then realised there was a queue of traffic the other side and had to swerve on to the wrong side of the road.

A white van had previously gone through and had been held in a the traffic queue - forcing it to manoeuvre to avoid being hit by the barrier.

Four hours later a white hatchback weaves through the lowering barriers at East Gates crossing on the line from Colchester to Clacton.

This came after an earlier car had rushed through the red lights before the barriers came down.

The videos are expected to be seen by British Transport Police, and if they are able to identify the vehicles, then action is likely to be taken.

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Rupert Lown, Network Rail Anglia's director of safety, said: "Level crossings if not used properly can be dangerous due to the fast-moving trains.

"Barriers and lights are there to protect drivers from the oncoming trains which travel up to 100mph on those particular lines. Drivers should not be risking their lives and the lives of others by ignoring red lights and racing to get through the barriers.

"I would urge drivers to be patient at the crossings. These drivers were extremely lucky no one was injured, but the outcome could be very different next time."

The videos were released just a few months after James Wheeler, of Adastral Close, Felixstowe, was given a suspended prison sentence for swerving crossing lights at Trimley St Mary - leading to his car being hit by a freight train.

Motorists flouting level crossing laws is one of the most serious issues facing Network Rail - and has forced the government-owned company to upgrade or look at closing thousands of crossings around the country.

More have now been converted into full barrier crossings like those at Manningtree or East Gates in a bid to crack down on the issue.