CHILDREN in Bolton were hit dozens of times by cars in the last four years, according to new figures.

Statistics from the Department for Transport show that 73 youngsters were hit by a vehicle in Bolton between 2017 and 2020, of which 17 were seriously injured.

Analysis by insurance firm Churchill showed that across the borough, primary school aged children made up 18 per cent of all casualties injured after being hit by cars, despite making up just 11 per cent of the population.

Churchill head of marketing Kirsty Hoad said: "With more than half of primary school children walking or cycling to school, this is one obvious area where children will need to know how to stay safe.

"We encourage everyone to take an active role in educating young children in their lives about road safety."

Six incidents in Bolton involving a casualty aged between four and 11 happened in a 20mph zone, while none were within 500 metres of a school.

The figures also show that 20 children were hit during school rush hours, either between 7.30am and 8.30am or between 3.30pm and 4.30pm.

Across the UK, 10,100 primary aged children have been hit by vehicles in the same period, the equivalent of around seven a day.

More than 2,900 of these accidents have happened during school pick-up and drop off times.

In response, car services company RAC is calling for more 20mph zones to be introduced around schools, saying physical traffic calming measures also played a part in making streets safer.

Senior press officer Rod Dennis said: "There is also a clear onus on drivers who use the car to drop off or pick up their children to think about their driving."

A Department for Transport spokesman said any death on the road is "completely unacceptable" and said the government is focusing on improving safety via its new Road Safety Strategic Framework.

He added: “We have already invested billions of pounds in safe active travel schemes and cleaner transport infrastructure.

"We’ve also recently announced changes to the Highway Code, meaning those who present the most risk to other road users are given the greatest responsibility in creating a safer travel environment for all.”