PUPILS across Oxfordshire have been urging drivers to slow down to help cut deaths on the roads.

Children set out to raise awareness of the hazards of speeding near schools and to get motorists to slow down to 20mph as part of activities for the Schools National Brake Road Safety Week, which ended last night.

According to the charity Brake, as many as one in 10 children in the region have been knocked down while walking or cycling, and half of all youngsters have narrowly avoided incidents on the roads.

Among those taking part were pupils at Windmill Primary School, in Headington, Oxford, where children raised placards reminding drivers of the stopping distances of cars.

The school is now situated in a 20mph zone, which headteacher Lynn Knapp said had made a big difference.

She said: “We’re incredibly fortunate to have a 20mph zone outside. Before it was introduced we were desperately worried about the threat of traffic to the children’s safety.

“Most schools are not as fortunate, and of course many of our pupils live on roads where fast traffic stops them getting out and about safely.

“That’s why we backed the campaign, and are calling on drivers to slow down to 20mph on all roads where there are homes, schools and community facilities.”

In Abingdon, pupils were also encouraging drivers to slow down, with a banner and cardboard speed cameras.

Pupils at Carswell Community Primary School took to Ock Street to urge drivers not to speed. Headteacher Sue Gore said drivers tooted their horns in support, but children were shocked to see a motorbike drive past at 50mph.

“I don’t think people realise there is a school set back off the main road,” she said. “We haven’t had any accidents, but we have had a couple of near misses.

“Touch wood, we haven’t had anything happen but there only has to be one accident.”

Council road safety officer Julie Jones said: “We need to get drivers to slow down, particularly on the school run when children will be walking and cycling.”

She said many drivers do not intend to speed and find their speed creeping up.

Julie Townsend, campaigns director at Brake, said: “It is unacceptable that so many children die and suffer appalling injuries on our roads.

“All drivers have a part to play in making our roads safer for children, and one of the best ways we can do this is to slow down to 20mph or below around schools and homes.

“Local children understand the need for traffic to slow down, and are appealing to drivers to make this simple commitment during Road Safety Week.”