Drive safely in the dark nights ahead

Published Wednesday 28 October 2009

The New Forest National Park Authority and the Verderers are urging people to drive safely this winter, especially now the clocks have gone back and the evenings are drawing in.

Despite a long-running campaign to reduce animal accidents there has been more than double the number of hit-and-runs compared to last year already.

‘Hit-and-run accidents are heartbreaking, not only for the owner of the animal but for the Agister too,’ said Sue Westwood, Clerk to the Verderers.  ‘It is the Agister’s job to find and then sometimes destroy an animal that may have been suffering for hours. Drivers involved in a hit-and-run accident who are then identified will be prosecuted.’

She continued: ‘Anyone who gives information leading to a prosecution can claim a reward of up to £1000.’

There have already been 140 animal accidents this year (33 more than last year) and 56 of these animals have either been killed outright or had to be destroyed because of their injuries.

Nigel Matthews, Head of Visitor and Recreation Services at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘With the clocks going back it will now be darker for many more people on their way home from work. A lot of ponies wear reflective collars but many don’t; these are the ones that are often difficult to see.

‘Last year 73 commoners’ animals were killed on open Forest roads, the lowest number since records began in 1956. We had hoped it would be even lower this year, but drivers will have to be much more careful if we are to beat last year’s record.

‘It’s not just the animal that’s at risk in an accident. If the driver is speeding the results could be catastrophic for their passengers and vehicle too. People must take more care, especially now it is getting dark earlier.

‘Ponies don’t realise cars are dangerous; drivers should expect ponies to step out in front of them and be alert at all times, no matter what time of day it is.’


Fact boxes:
Who do I phone?
Call 999 in an emergency or 0845 045 4545 in a non emergency to report any road traffic accident involving a pony, cow, donkey, pig, sheep, dog or deer.
Call the Verderers’ Office on 023 8028 2052 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) or the Forestry Commission on 023 8028 3141 (24 hours) to report sick commoning animals.

Cards and stickers
Carry an animal accident hotline card in your car, it tells you who to call and display an ‘I go slow for ponies’ sticker visit for more information.

Driving tips to prevent animal accidents this winter

  • Be ready to stop – ponies may step out even when they’ve seen you approaching.
  • Drive slowly, especially at night and when other cars are approaching with their headlights on.
  • Drive animals grazing by the side of the road a wide berth
  • Remember that deer easily jump the fences alongside roads like the A337, A31 and A35 and when there is one deer more will usually follow.
  • The faster you are going, the greater the damage will be to the animal, your car and your passengers – start your journey early so you don’t have to hurry.

Media Contact:
Karen Evans, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650

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