Two school children were knocked down last week at a danger spot where campaigners are demanding a proper crossing. Chief reporter DAN HODGES finds that despite new figures which suggest Ealing's roads are getting safer,the terrible impact of road accidents remains as shocking as ever
DODGING heavy traffic to get to the new Tesco on the other side of Uxbridge Road is a daily risk taken by pupils at Twyford C of E School.
Predictions that yet another accident there was inevitable were proven horribly right early last Thursday morning when two boys, one aged 13 and the other 15, were hit as they tried to reach the store at the Acton petrol station.
Thankfully, neither was seriously injured, but the accident will give added weight to a long running campaign for a pelican crossing which saw a 1,200-signature petition handed to Ealing Council last month.
Questions are also being raised about cash which was apparently set aside by the now-dissolved Acton Area Committee for a crossing at the danger spot, where South Acton councillor John Gallagher says there have been 18 accidents in two years.
"It appears that the money which has been voted for by the old committee seems to have disappeared," said Cllr Gallagher. "There's no clear explanation.
"In my opinion it's a very dangerous road."
Despite pressure from the school and local councillors, transport leader
David Millican said in a written response the possibility of a pelican crossing or full junction had been considered three times, in 1998, 2001 and 2007, but that there was "no easy option" available without hindering access to the petrol station. Bus stops would have to be moved, and new funding would have to be provided, he said.
In the meantime, the two injured boys will be added to a growing list of statistics held by the Department for Transport which reveals the ongoing dangers of Ealing's roads.
Last year, 13 people were killed and 124 were seriously injured in road accidents in Ealing, down from a combined total of 147 in 2006. Eight other London boroughs recorded higher numbers of serious accidents, and Ealing's figures were a marked improvement on the mid-1990s, when an average of 288 people were killed or seriously injured every year and only two boroughs - Lambeth and Westminster - recorded higher numbers of casualties.
Nine children were among those seriously injured in 2007, down from an average of 35 each year between 1994 and 1998.
The government breakdown for last year's 1,148 serious and less serious injuries in Ealing also show that the vast majority - some 688 - were inflicted on people in cars. Others hurt included 189 pedestrians, 170 motorcyclists, 78 cyclists, 61 bus passengers, and 30 van or lorry drivers.
Total accidents have also dropped since the mid-1990s, when there were an average of 1,900 injuries caused every year.
But only two boroughs - Barnet and Westminster - had higher numbers of total injuries caused in 2007.
The true impact of road accidents is shown not in the figures, however, but in the impact on the lives of those affected.
Cathy Wright, whose six-year-old son Jamie's leg was badly broken in East Acton after he was knocked down as he crossed the road to buy an ice cream, said: "It's the worst thing that I've ever had to go through in my life - to think I nearly lost him, and to have to watch him laid on his back for nearly 12 weeks.
"He couldn't move or wash or use the toilet, he had no privacy and he couldn't play outside with his friends. It took him a long time to heal and he got a lot of infections.
"Jamie's back at school now. His foot has not quite straightened out and he's still having physiotherapy every week, but otherwise he's back to himself. He's absolutely petrified of roads, and he won't cross unless it's a green man. Even now I haven't really got over what happened. When I walk up the street and see kids in the road, my stomach turns over."