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Letter: Hits and myths of driving near ponies in the New Forest

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SIR – The most dangerous urban New Forest myths are that you don’t need to slow down for ponies that are grazing, and on a straight road ponies can see you coming and won’t walk out.

Many urban residents believe that anyone who slows for ponies is not used to seeing ponies on the roadside. Nothing could be further from the truth; those who fail to slow show themselves ignorant and lacking respect for the Forest.

I drive over Hill Top daily. Despite being a straight road with ponies and cattle clearly visible, it is a black spot for animal road traffic collisions.

Do many drivers ignore grazing ponies?
Do many drivers ignore grazing ponies?

Few drivers actually exceed the speed limit but many fail to lower their speed even when ponies are on the verge. Strangely, people who drive dangerously close to ponies invariably slow and move into the middle of the road at cattle grids.

Frequently tailgated, I was recently overtaken by three cars as I approached ponies on both verges. No one exceeded the speed limit, but none would have been unable to stop if a pony had stepped into the road.

The Highway Code now contains much-publicised rules about giving room to cyclists but much less publicity has been given to the new rules concerning overtaking animals.

Listed under "other users", rule 214 gives general guidance when passing animals and 215 specifies that you must allow at least two metres and not exceed 10mph when overtaking horses. This rule specifically applies to feral and semi-feral ponies in the New Forest, Dartmoor and Exmoor. These rules came into effect on the 29th of January.

C. J. Aldhous,
Dibden Purlieu

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