THE number of fatal car crashes in Warrington has equalled the total from the whole of 2018 after only four months.

Emergency services bosses are pleading with drivers to take care on the roads in order to stop the death toll spiralling even further – with three accidents having led to lives being lost so far in 2019.

A total of three fatal crashes were recorded in the town during the whole of 2018.

In January, 20-year-old biker Nassi Petras died after an accident involving a lorry on Wilderspool Causeway.

Warrington Guardian:

Flowers left at the scene on Wilderspool and, inset, Nassi Petras

And two pensioners were killed on the town’s roads last month.

Dr Stephen Geoghegan, 84, suffered fatal injuries in a crash involving two vans and a car on Common Lane in Culcheth, before 81-year-old James Mohan died in an accident on Birchwood Way.

Warrington Guardian:

Police on Birchwood Way and, inset, James Mohan

Cheshire Police chief constable Darren Martland said: “From a policing perspective, this is Cheshire’s biggest killer.

“People are dying on our roads as a result of motorists’ poor driving, reckless decisions and momentary lapses in concentration.

“Fatal collisions are heartbreaking for the family, for the community and for the responding emergency services staff who have to witness the tragedy and subsequent aftermath.

“There’s no single cause – there are some hotspots but they are scattered among motorways, A-roads and rural settings.

“When we’ve looked beneath the surface we’ve found a number of different factors, but more than 50 per cent are caused by poor driving.

“Nobody sets out intending to injure themselves or other people but it’s that minor distraction, that few miles over the speed limit or that dangerous manoeuvre when you’re in a rush that can tragically lead to fatal consequences.

“It only takes a second.”

These figures do not include two pedestrians who were killed after being hit by vehicles this year.

In February, a 26-year-old woman was pronounced dead after being hit by a lorry near to junction 11 of the M56 at Daresbury.

Later the same month, 84-year-old Francis Melia was on his way to an appointment at Warrington Hospital when he was run over and killed.

Warrington Guardian:

Francis Melia

And Warrington motorcyclist Paul Weaver, 59, also died in February after a crash involving a lorry in Widnes.

Warrington Guardian:

Flowers left on Ditton Road in Widnes in memory of Paul Weaver

Mark Cashin, chief fire officer at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Many times we’re being mobilised to incidents where people have already lost their lives, and no matter what we do it’s already too late.

“People choose not to put a seatbelt on, people choose to get behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs and people choose to use a mobile phone.

“Nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them – they don’t realise the risks to themselves, their families and other motorists and pedestrians.

"We're seeing a rise with mental health problems in emergency services staff, and I know that some of that is linked to the utterly horrific incidents they've attended – because none of us are equipped to see very horrific trauma on a regular basis without it having an impact.

Warrington Guardian:

"One reckless decision can cost you or an innocent member of the public their life.

"All vehicles today are designed to keep us safe but when driven badly, they can turn into a lethal machine.

"Human error is by far the biggest contributory factor to fatal collisions, and if a person drives carelessly – no matter how safe you think your vehicle is – the risk of a serious collision occurring is increased considerably.

"It's just not worth dying for."

Across Cheshire, 23 people have died as a result of road traffic collisions so far in 2019 – more than one a week – while 46 fatalities were reported last year.

Many have been caused by careless driving, speeding, drink or drug, not wearing a seatbelt or mobile phones – known as the 'fatal five'.

Warrington Guardian:

North West Ambulance Service chief executive Daren Mochrie added: "We see all too often the devastation that is caused by careless and dangerous driving.

"Lives have been unnecessarily lost due to careless driving, and we really urge drivers to think twice before they get behind the wheel and help avoid this heartbreaking situation from happening.

"It takes just one of the five fatal factors to cause an accident and just a bit of extra care to prevent them.

"Please don't take the risk and only drive when it’s safe to do so."