Driving in the New Forest: kill your speed - not an animal
#add3minutes - Add three minutes to your journey time on New Forest roads
As the newborn foals start to appear again it’s a timely reminder to slow down on our New Forest roads. There are still far too many people driving at unsafe speeds for the conditions – especially the condition of darkness combined with dampness and poor visibility.
Right now though we need to be aware at all times of day and night.
The brand new 2021 foals are just beginning to appear, as captured here by local photographer Graham Wiffen.
Foals are skittish, unpredictable and desperately delicate, it is important to slow down to practically a standstill if they're close to the roadside.
Let's together this year do what we can to minimise the unbearable tragedies. Remember to #addthreeminutes and spread the word wherever you can.
Darkness is always the greatest danger
The majority of accidents occur during the hours of darkness, and every year there is a spike in collisions when the clocks go back.
The animals tend to congregate closer to the roads in winter. And, if their backs are facing us, we don’t see the collars and don’t see them - until we’re potentially too close to stop.
Disappointingly each year the number of animal deaths on New Forest roads is rising. Figures from the Verderers of the New Forest show that in 2019 there were 58 animals killed on the roads, in 2018 there were 63 animals were killed or had to be destroyed compared to 56 in 2017. And a total of 26 were injured, which was up from 22.
A quarter of the crashes taking place on just four roads in the two months after the clocks went back.
The worst routes for animal accidents are Lymington to Dibden Purlieu, Brockenhurst to Sway, Burley to Picket Post and Cadnam to Godshill. And, many of those ghastly accidents happen during those key hours when people are driving home from work – in a hurry.
#add3minutes – New Forest slow down campaign
The National Park Authority has been working with Hampshire County Council and New Forest District Council and other local groups including Hampshire Constabulary to build a Forest-wide campaign to increase drivers’ awareness of the need to take extra care on the dark evenings, and to cut the number of animals killed or injured on New Forest roads on dark winter evenings.
A spokesman for the National Park Authority said: “People are three times more likely to kill or injure an animal after the clocks go back than before. Animal owners and organisations are appealing to commuters to add three minutes to their journeys and drive slowly for New Forest animals.”
A spokesman for the Forest's Animal Accidents Reduction Group said: "Weekdays are worse than weekends and Thursday and Friday are worst days of the week with the peak time of day being the evening, when people are driving in darkness: 5pm-6pm and up to 10pm in winter with an additional peak between 7am-8am in winter."
Three minutes has been measured as the difference between driving along the B3054 from Dibden to the Lymington cattle grid at Portmore at 30 mph instead of 40.
At 30 mph anybody who’s been on a driver awareness course will know that there is a far greater chance of stopping in time to avoid an accident.
So – simply allowing three minutes longer for your journey both morning and evening, could make all the difference.
The hashtag #add3minutes is being used to generate social media volume. We’ll be supporting it. Please do too - and put it into practice!
Hit and run drivers to be targeted
Meanwhile, the Official Verderer, Lord Manners, and Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Michael Lane, have also joined forces in a specific effort to prevent badly-injured animals being left to suffer.
They are going to work more closely with police and insurance companies, in an attempt to ensure that hit-and-run drivers are identified and prosecuted.
So apart from the suffering caused to both animal and owner and the damage to your vehicle, surely that’s another incentive to slow down.
What to do if you find an injured New Forest animal
If you see an animal which looks ill, is injured, or in distress you should report it as soon as possible, giving a clear description of the animal and what you think may be wrong with it as well as where you saw it and at what time.
If you witness - or are involved in - a road traffic accident involving a New Forest animal, you must report the incident, even if the animal runs off. The animal may be in distress, have serious injuries that require immediate veterinary attention or have fatal injuries that would necessitate the animal being put to sleep. Some animals run away in fear and panic, even on broken limbs which can make you believe that it is unhurt. As a result, the animal can suffer unnecessarily.
Who to contact
The Verderers state that if a collision with a Forest animal occurs (for whatever reason) drivers are required to report it to the authorities as soon as practicably possible, and certainly within 24 hours. Drivers must not leave the scene of an accident (unless it is to call for help), particularly if the animal is still on the highway as it may cause a further accident.
Road traffic accidents involving Forest animals should be reported immediately to the Police by dialing 999 (emergency) or 101 (non emergency).
If you find a sick, injured or distressed pony, cow, donkey, pig or sheep, contact the Verderers’ Office on 023 8028 2052 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm), or the Forestry Commission on 0300 067 4600 (24 hours).
If you find a sick, injured or distressed deer, contact the Forestry Commission on 0300 067 4600 (24 hours).
Forest animals have no road sense and they have right of way. Drive slowly, especially at night, and give animals a wide berth.