Commuters are urged to be vigilant as accidents involving animals in the Forest peak between 5pm and 8pm on weekdays in the winter months.
Low light, dazzling oncoming headlights and weather makes visibility poor. So it’s encouraged to slow down from 40mph to 30mph, a move which adds only three extra minutes to most journeys across the Forest but can drastically reduce accidents involving animals.
Last year, 159 New Forest animals – ponies, cattle, donkeys, pigs and sheep – were involved in collisions, with 58 killed and 32 injured.
Most drivers involved in animal accidents are relatively local people on regular trips. The high-risk routes have been identified as:
- B3078/79 from Cadnam to Godshill
- B3054 from Lymington to Dibden Purlieu
- B3055 from Brockenhurst to Sway
- C10 from Picket Post to Holmsley.
The New Forest’s Animal Accident Reduction Group organized a range of measures including police mobile speed cameras and reflective warning signs on dangerous routes.
Accidents involving livestock, are required by law to be reported to police 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.
How drivers can help:
- be ready to stop – animals can step out even when they’ve seen you approaching.
- drive slowly, especially at night – there is a pool of darkness behind the headlights of approaching cars – an animal may be standing in it.
- give animals grazing by the side of the road a wide berth – cross to the other side of the road and be prepared to STOP.
- grazing animals on both sides of the road? Take extra care as they may cross.
- one animal by the roadside means others are close by.
- bends and tops of hills need more care – animals may be standing in the road out of sight.
- reflective collars worn by some ponies may help you see them in the dark – be aware not all livestock have them.
- deer can easily jump the fences alongside roads like the A337, A31 and A35 – and when there is one deer more will usually follow.