DESPITE a high-profile campaign urging drivers to take slow down on New Forest roads during winter months, latest figures revealed a rise in animal accidents over the past year.
Agisters attended 159 accidents in 2019, up from 154 over previous 12 months. A total of 58 commoners’ animals were killed comprising 35 ponies, 13 cattle, eight donkeys and two sheep.
A further 32 animals were injured including three pigs, nine donkeys, 11 cows and nine ponies.
Speaking at a meeting of the Verderers’ Court on Wednesday, clerk Sue Westwood said: “Forty-three accidents occurred in daylight, 15 at twilight and 101 in the dark.
“Twenty-seven accidents were not reported by the driver involved.”
The latest statistics will come as a blow to a number of local organisations who joined forces to set up the Animal Accident Reduction Group.
Last autumn the group, comprising representatives from the national park authority, the Commoners’ Defence Association and the verderers, launched a fresh campaign calling on motorists to slow down.
People have been urged to add three minutes to their journey, which is the extra time it would take to drive at 30mph rather than 40mph along some of the most dangerous Forest routes.
The accident toll has continued in the new year after three accidents involving commoners’ animals on New Forest roads last week, including one in which a pony was fatally injured.
The first took place on Thursday at 5.18pm and involved a brown mare wearing a reflective collar on the B3058 at Brownhills. Sadly an agister had to destroy the animal because of its injuries.
On Friday there were two accidents reported to verderers on the notorious B3078, an accident blackspot known for speeding drivers.
The first was a hit-and-run which took place between Brook and Roger Penny Way at around 9.45pm, and the second just 10 minutes later at Longcross. In both cases the animals involved could not be found.
In November the New Forest Safer Roads Campaign joined forces with Hampshire police to conduct speed checks on the B3078.
During one check 200 vehicles were recorded in an hour, and of those 40 were driving above the 40mph speed limit, with one driver recorded at 56mph.
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