DORSET'S roads are becoming more dangerous for children, with the number of deaths and serious injuries at the highest level for nine years.

Charities say more needs to be done to make the roads safer, and stop the "tragedy" of young lives blighted by car accidents.

Figures from Public Health England and the Department for Transport show that 28 under-16s were killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Dorset in the three years from 2016 to 2018.

At a rate of 15.6 incidents per 100,000 children, that is the highest level since PHE's records began in 2008-10.

It is still lower than the national average, however, with an average of 17.7 incidents per 100,000 children across England during the same period.

Now police have urged drivers to take care on the roads.

Inspector Joe Pardey, of the Dorset Police traffic unit, said: “Any road traffic collision that results in a death or a serious injury has a significant impact on the families involved and this is particularly the case when it involves a young person.

“We are committed to reducing collisions on our roads and our roads policing teams work seven days a week to ensure people are driving safely and within the law.

“We also have initiatives such as Op Dragoon where we target those motorists who are known to pose a risk to other road users by repeatedly failing to comply with the laws relating to driving.

“Traffic police family liaison officers will continue to support families who have sadly lost a loved one as a result of a road traffic collision but the sad truth remains that many of these incidents could have been avoided.

“That is why we continue to plea for all motorists to drive responsibly and with patience at all times.”

Across the country, 5,665 children were killed or seriously injured on the roads in 2016-18.

That is the highest level for five years, although it has fallen from 7,325 in 2008-10.

Road safety charity Brake said it was a "tragedy" that so many children are still hurt or killed on the roads.

A spokesman said: "Every child should have the right to be able to play out and walk or cycle to school in their community without fear of traffic and pollution.

"But many are unable to do so because of dangerous driving around schools and a lack of access to simple measures such as footpaths, cycle paths or safe places to cross.

"We need to see safer speeds, particularly around schools and on streets where children play, and greater investment in segregated cycle paths and footpaths to help keep children safe on our roads.”