Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 13:46 UK

Driver 'distracted' near crossing

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A motorist has told a court she was distracted approaching a level crossing before her car was hit by a train.

Eileen Lawrence, 72, drove onto the crossing in Fairbourne, Gwynedd, and was hit by a train travelling at 20mph.

The train with 80 passengers pushed the car into fencing but no one was injured, Dolgellau magistrates heard.

She admitted careless driving and was fined £40 with three penalty points, with £80 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

She told the court there was a campaign for barriers at the level crossing.

There had been a lapse of concentration and you admitted that you had been distracted by a young driver
Jill Hughes, magistrate

Mel Hughes, prosecuting, told magistrates a Peugeot 306 driven by the defendant, who lives in Fairbourne, drove onto the level crossing in contravention of the red lights at about 1145 BST on 14 May.

Despite applying the emergency brakes, the train hit the car, she said.

"Remarkably, the car driver was not injured and neither were any passengers aboard the train."

"But the village of Fairbourne was cut off until about 3pm for the car to be removed from the track," said Mr Hughes. The crossing lights were checked and found to be in working order.

Lawrence, who was not represented, told the magistrates there was a campaign for barriers to be placed on the level crossing at Fairbourne, as there had been other accidents on the crossing.

"I was momentarily distracted by a young driver. I did not see the lights or hear anything," she said adding that she used the crossing on a regular basis.

She pleaded guilty to careless driving and said that she had been shocked and upset by the incident.

Jill Hughes, who chaired the court, said that the defendant was aware of the correct procedures in going over railway crossing.

"But in this instance there had been a lapse of concentration and you admitted that you had been distracted by a young driver," said the chairman.

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