Fatalities Continue in the New Forest
The ponies which graze in the New Forest are a wonderful sight for everyone who visits the area. They have been grazing in the region for thousands of years but unfortunately, whilst they have changed little, human lifestyles have altered considerably in that time. People now tend to travel in cars and vans rather than by horse and cart and so accidents involving the ponies are all too common.
Drive with Care
Many drivers do not slow down when traversing the roads of the New Forest in spite of the warnings to do so. The prevalence of accidents during the daily rush hours is no coincidence and could be as much to do with drivers being in a hurry as to the volume of vehicles on the road.
The ponies can wander across the roads at any time and are not terribly visible at night. The majority of incidents occur after dark and so more than a third of the region’s ponies have been fitted with reflective collars. The collars appear to have made a difference as 2015 saw a record low for animals killed. Nonetheless there were still 38 fatalities and a total of 127 accidents, 79 of which occurred at night. 30 out of the 38 animals killed were not wearing the reflective collars.
Losing the Light
As the evenings draw in, accidents become even more common. Efforts are being made to increase public awareness of the potential dangers to the ponies. The accidents don’t do much for the motorists’ cars either!
Pony Fatalities in 2016
Sadly, the first week of October has seen three accidents. A donkey foal was killed and a donkey and a pony were injured in the incidents. Two of accidents were hit-and-runs. There is a £1000 reward for information which leads to the conviction of the guilty parties.
The most recent death brings the number of fatalities this year to 23. This is three less than during the same period in 2015 which is a welcome improvement but things could take a turn for the worse when the clocks go back and more journeys are made in darkness.
If you are driving in the New Forest at any time, then do be aware of the ponies and act accordingly. Some accidents are unavoidable, but many could be prevented by more cautious driving, especially at night. The ponies occupied the New Forest long before the invention of the internal combustion engine. It is people who need to change their behaviour, not the ponies.