'˜Words cannot describe how horrendous it is to lose a child'
Sickening statistics show Lancashire has more children killed or seriously injured on its roads than any other county in Britain.
And Preston has been branded the worst Red Rose blackspot with the highest accident statistics for Under-15s.
The figures have been revealed in a report by County Hall and have prompted council chiefs to target young people in a new road safety strategy for Lancashire’s roads.
“Some districts in Lancashire have among the highest rates of child casualties in the UK,” said Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, the county’s director of public health.
“There are common features of these incidents which suggest we need to look at new ways to encourage everyone to take more care on the roads and particularly influence children to stay safe when out and about.”
The report, which is to be presented to LCC’s cabinet committee for performance improvement, singles out Preston as having the worst accident figures over a five-year period up to June this year.
In that time there were a total of 55 children either killed or seriously hurt on the roads of the city - 36 of them pedestrians.
They included 15-year-old Megan Blakey who suffered serious injuries as she crossed Brockholes Brow at Samlesbury in April this year.
Two companions, Rachel Marie Murphy, 23, and Shelby Maher, 17, were both killed as the friends collided with a BMW car.
After her death a family statement said: “Rachel gave her life and pushed her friend to safety, that’s something Rachel always did, friends first even to her last penny.”
That tragic incident happened less than half a mile from the scene of another fatal collision in which 14-year-old cyclist Reece Whitehead lost his life in New Hall Lane, near to Brockholes Brow, in August 2014.
Reece, from Brant Street, Preston, collided with a car when he cycled across New Hall Lane following a friend. Later friends and neighbours created a park in his memory.
His mum Helen said: “Words cannot describe how horrendous it is to lose a child.”
And more recently 15-year-old Dylan Crossey was killed in a collision with a car as he was cycling along Chainhouse Lane at Whitestake last month.
Dylan’s dad Kevin, of Walton Avenue, Penwortham, said: “I was so proud of him. I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Burnley (51) and Pendle (49) were not far behind Preston on the casualty count.
Across the whole county council area there were 363 kids killed or badly injured during the calendar years from 2011 to 2015 - the highest in the whole of Great Britain.
The highest number was recorded in 2015 when 87 children were involved in serious road collisions in Lancashire. And in the 12 months to June 30 this year the number was 79 - more than six a month.
The report, which comes with 20 proposals aimed at reducing casualty numbers, makes graphic reading for parents, especially in the more densely populated parts of the county where accidents are more common.
It says: “The higher numbers of child KSI (killed or seriously injured) pedestrian casualties tend to occur in districts with more areas of older housing stock, ie. terraced housing set out in grid iron patterns.
“Generally across Lancashire, areas with the highest number of residents aged 0-15 and highest density of housing, have the greatest number of child KSIs.”
The report says that roughly half of the casualties among children and young people fall within the age group of 11-15.
Analysis of the figures shows a small spike at the age of six and “more significant” spikes at 11 and 12 “following transition to high school when many children begin travelling independently over greater distances.”
Most accidents happen when children are walking. And the vast majority involve children running or stepping into the road, often on streets where visibility is reduced by parked cars.
Other common factors in collisions are children using pedestrian crossings, parents losing control of younger children when crossing the road, children moving together in groups and also distraction.
Dr Karunanihi added: “The number of people who are killed or injured on our roads has fallen considerably over the last decade, but the number of incidents involving children, particularly child pedestrians, remains higher in Lancashire than many other areas.
“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and we need everyone to help prevent deaths and injuries on our roads by staying alert and driving carefully.
“I hope this report helps to raise awareness of this issue and the common causes of these incidents involving children, so that people are in a better position to encourage participation in our road safety education programmes and reinforce road safety measures.”