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Drivers urged to take care on New Forest roads by national park, agisters and commoners as deadliest months for livestock approach

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AS the deadliest months approach for New Forest livestock on the roads, local organisations have warned drivers to take extra care.

Speed is a major contributing factor but weather conditions, darker evenings and dazzling headlights can be just as important.

With the clocks changing this weekend, national park authority executive director Steve Avery said motorists should always be prepared to stop for animals.

Ponies are often on New Forest roads, particularly after gritting
Ponies are often on New Forest roads, particularly after gritting

"Accidents can happen at any speed and cause untold suffering to the unfortunate animal, can result in injuries to people in the car and may result in a badly damaged vehicle," he said.

"By slowing down in the dark, especially when oncoming vehicles approach, drivers, their passengers and the animals will be much safer."

In 2019, 58 animals were killed in total and a further 32 were injured. In 2020 – when traffic was reduced by Covid-19 restrictions – 50 were killed and 21 injured.

November and December are the deadliest months for New Forest livestock, with most accidents involving local commuters and taking place between 5pm and 10pm on weekdays.

The statistics pinpoint four high risk routes:

  • B3078/79 from Cadnam to Godshill (Roger Penny Way)
  • B3054 from Lymington to Dibden Purlieu
  • B3055 from Brockenhurst to Sway
  • C10 from Picket Post to Holmsley

Charlotte Lines, New Forest Commoners Defence Association chair, noted work to reduce the number of accidents, such as reflective collars for ponies and ear tags for cattle.

"However, there are still too many casualties," she said. "Animals can just appear from nowhere and in an instant, so we ask users of Forest roads to drive with care and caution over the winter months and help us protect our animals."

Gilly Jones, commoner and spokesperson for Animal Accident Road Awareness, said: "Over the years I have spoken to many of those who have been unfortunate to hit an animal. Think how it will affect you and others in your vehicle maybe for years to come."

Head agister Jonathan Gerrelli said: "Allow yourself a little more time for your journey and if visibility is poor due to the weather, darkness or an oncoming vehicles’ lights, slow down.

"If the worst happens, and you do collide with a Forest animal, or witness an accident involving one, please report it as soon as possible.

"A hit-and-run is the last thing we want, where an animal could be left in pain for hours or days if not reported. Even if it runs off, the animal could be seriously injured, so call the police and an agister will be sent out to search for the casualty."

Anyone who does have an accident involving a pony, cow, donkey, pig or sheep is required by law to report it to the police by ringing 999 as soon as possible.

A reward of up to £5,000 is offered for information leading to the successful conviction of drivers prosecuted for failing to stop and report an accident involving a Forest animal.

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