A FIFTH of vehicles speed-checked at an animal accident blackspot road in the New Forest were caught going over the 40mph limit.
The troubling find was made when volunteers from the New Forest Roads Campaign (NFRC) joined Hampshire police for a SpeedWatch operation on the B3078 Roger Penny Way, between Bramshaw and Fordingbridge.
The route has the worst record for animal accidents in the Forest and out of 200 vehicles that passed the team last Wednesday morning between 10am and 11am, 40 were found to be travelling over the limit – with the highest speed being 56mph.
The results came six days after an operation on the same road found 19 out of 176 vehicles exceeding the limit, with the highest speed then being 55mph.
It has prompted a fresh call for motorists travelling along Forest roads to keep an eye on their speed and be extra vigilant for livestock.
NFRC spokesperson Gilly Jones told the A&T: “We need to make people aware that they need to watch their speed. Sometimes they don’t know that they’re doing it – their speed might just creep over the limit.
“If you hit one-ton of cow at 50-60mph not only are you risking the life of the animal, you are risking your own and any passengers’ lives.”
The NFRC is one of several groups of volunteers that carry out SpeedWatch checks across the New Forest. Its main purpose is to educate motorists and increase their awareness of the livestock on the roads rather than to enforce against speeders.
Earlier this year the group was given the go-ahead to carry out the speed checks in 40mph zones as well as on 30mph roads, allowing them to get out onto the Forest routes.
Ms Jones continued. “Hopefully just by us being there we are reminding people of the speed limit, although speed isn’t the reason for every accident – accidents do happen.
“Lots of people – and I think we are all guilty of this – think, ‘It won’t happen to me’. But it can.
“I would rather we had 200 cars go past us at 40mph or less. But we are mainly there for education and to remind people what the speed limit is, not specifically to target people.”
Ms Jones explained the SpeedWatch volunteers count how many vehicles go past and gauge the speed at which they are travelling.
Warning letters are sent out to motorists clocked from a certain speed over 40mph, but Ms Jones declined to reveal what this figure is.
Although some Forest livestock wear reflective collars, she stressed this only helped make them more visible at night.
Animal accidents during daylight hours have increased slightly this year from last year, she said, although she speculated this could be due to more people reporting incidents.
The NFRC volunteers are set to carry out another SpeedWatch operation tomorrow (Wednesday), either on Roger Penny Way again or at Hatchet Pond. This coincides with the national Road Safety Week which launched on Monday and runs until Sunday 24th November.
Posts on the NFRC Facebook page sparked a call for a permanent speed camera to be installed along the route.
In response, NFRC wrote: “We are all working on this, but a big bit of red tape in our way. Please contact the police and crime commissioner to ask for them. The more people ask, the more he will take notice.”