A van driver’s attempt to avoid the Dartford Crossing Toll ended in disaster on Sunday after his vehicle only made it 20 yards from the beach at Shoeburyness before it was forced to stop.

Witnesses said that the van was seen driving out at low tide and ‘taking it’s chances’ before the incoming flow of water stopped it in its tracks.

Coastguard and local police officials have confirmed that the bridge and tunnel at Dartford are still the safest way to get across to Kent.

Driver Nigel Fuch-Weet told our Chief Reporter that ‘enough was enough’ and that the toll charges had forced him to try and find an alternative.

He said: ‘I was watching this James Bond film the other week and there was a scene where a vehicle just drives into the water and becomes a boat.’

‘There was nothing about that specifically in the Vauxhall Movano manual that came with the van, but I decided to give it a go anyway just in case the manufacturer had included it as an optional extra.’

‘As the water reached the top of my tyres, I pressed the big red triangle in the middle of the dashboard just in case that was the ‘activate sea flaps’ button, but all that happened is that my indicators started flashing on both sides at the same time.’

‘At that point I tried sticking it in third and going heavy on the accelerator, but that just made things worse and luckily I was able to jump out.’

‘Until they decide to scrap the toll charges at Dartford, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more and more people try this.’

We asked Mr Fuch-Weet if he would reconsider using the Dartford Crossing in the future.

He said: ‘Absolutely not! I have a new idea though that I will try next week if the weather conditions are right.’

‘Southend Pier is around a mile and a third long, and I have figured out that if I absolutely floor it from Adventure Island, by the time I reach the pier head I should have enough momentum to land in Minster On Sea.’

‘If the wind picks up a bit I may even be able to make it to Whistable.’