St Helens has high rate of children hit by cars

More children are hit crossing the road in summer months
More children are hit crossing the road in summer months

St Helens is within the top 65 worst areas for a high rate of children being injured when crossing the road.

New figures from RAC Foundation reveal that the borough has a rate of 19.29 per 100,000 youngsters aged up to 15 being hit by a car, placing it 62nd out of 378 authorities.

Over the past decade or so there has been a steady decline in the overall number of child casualties but worryingly in 2014 there was a noticeable increase

Steve Gooding

There were 309 child casualties in St Helens between 2010 and 2014, with an average of 62 children hurt when crossing the road.

The better weather and longer days mean more children cycle or walk to school, or play outside, which could mean a greater exposure to risk, according to the RAC Foundation.

Its research found 40 per cent of all child road casualties were on foot and 13 per cent of all child road casualties were on bicycles.

The peak hour for child road casualties to occur was at the end of the school day between 3pm and 4pm, but many children were also hurt in the following couple of hours.

There was also a spike in the morning between 8am and 9am, as youngsters headed to school.

The RAC Foundation warned that drivers need to take extra care, particularly in summer months, when more children are outside.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Instinctively we think of the dark, cold months as taking the biggest toll on our children. But the opposite is true. With the longer, warmer days children are more likely to be out and about. And with that comes a big rise in casualties.

“Over the past decade or so there has been a steady decline in the overall number of child casualties but worryingly in 2014 there was a noticeable increase.

“The recent increase in child casualty numbers must be a concern for us all. We don’t want to wrap our children in cotton wool, so as adults and parents we all have a part to play in leading by example whether we are behind the wheel or crossing the road on foot. The more we act responsibly, the faster young children will learn and the more likely they will be to stay safe when they have to make decisions for themselves.”

Pete Williams, a trustee of the RAC’s Road Safety Awareness Charity, said: “It is the responsibility of all drivers to be mindful of the risks of young road users and children playing around and near roads and to reduce their speed and increase their vigilance. But more needs to be done to address road safety education in schools and across the board to ensure our young people are alert to the potential dangers.

“That is why the RAC has teamed up with The Scout Association to improve the awareness and skills of their half a million members to help them keep safe and to grow up as responsible road users.”