The open landscape of the New Forest where ponies, cattle, donkeys, sheep and pigs roam free is one of the distinctive features of the New Forest National Park. This is one of the few areas in England, especially in the busy and developed south, where drivers often come face-to-face with animals on the road, both in daylight and at night.
The animals' free grazing activity across the forest helps shape the landscape we know and love today.
The highest number of deaths caused by road traffic accidents was 313 in 1962, and even as recently as 1991 there were 181 deaths. Despite higher numbers of animals and increased traffic the death toll fell to around 100-120 from 1992 probably in part due to the introduction of the 40mph speed limit zone across the Open Forest.
Further reductions proved difficult but in 2007 the Animal Accident Reduction Group was formed to improve analysis of the accident statistics and coordinate the actions of the various organisations involved. This group is attended by representatives from the New Forest National Park Authority, the Verderers/Agisters, New Forest District Council, Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Constabulary, Forestry Commission, the New Forest Trust, British Deer Society and the Commoners Defence Association.
You can see how the number of accidents each year has changed since 1985 by downloading the data sheet. Every animal killed is a great loss to the Forest, and to its owner. However, the good news is that 2010, 2011 and 2012 all had relatively low numbers of animal deaths (65, 66 and 64), and the number of animals killed and injured in 2012 (82) was the lowest since records began in 1956. 2013 saw an increase in accidents to 72 deaths and 32 injured but this is still quite low given the number of animals grazing the Forest last year. The challenge is, of course, to reduce the number of accidents every year, so we are always looking for new ideas.
Our maps of animal accidents show which roads are worst, primarily because they carry most traffic.
The pony and foal deaths download shows how vulnerable foals are in the summer months.