Wednesday, 8 August 2012
Last year there were 46 road traffic accidents involving commoners’ animals on the B3078 and B3079. These busy roads across the north of the New Forest bucked the overall trend of fewer accidents.
Now, for the first time, the entire back of one of the New Forest Tour’s open top buses carries an image of ponies at sunset with the slogan ‘Ponies don’t dent they die’, written by 14-year-old Oliver Smith, who won the 2011 competition ‘saving ponies through art’. Oliver was delighted to hear that his slogan is once again hitting the headlines. He said: ‘First it was a poster, then road signs and now it’s on the back of a bus!’
Nigel Matthews, Community and Visitor Services Manager at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘This year has got off to a good start. The number of animal accidents across the Open Forest by the end of June was only 40, compared to 64 in the same period last year.
‘However, we wanted to remind drivers in the north to be careful. The image on the bus by photographer Mike Read reminds us that animals are on the road day and night.’
Head Agister Jonathan Gerrelli said: ‘It is the law to report all accidents as soon as possible, and within 24 hours. However 31 accidents were not reported last year. Not only is this distressing for the injured animal but also for the Agisters - we work long hours in often difficult circumstances. It is our job to find the animal and often to end its suffering. Failure to report an accident promptly may result in unnecessary suffering to the animal - something which could lead the Police to take further action.’
Graham Ferris, Chairman of the Commoners Defence Association, said: ‘The Commoners’ animals are vital to the New Forest since their grazing keeps the Forest the way we have all come to appreciate. The animals have right of way and don’t understand that cars are dangerous. By reminding drivers to watch out for the animals, we hope to reduce the number of accidents.’
The New Forest Tour is the perfect way to promote safe driving around the Forest. Not only is it seen by thousands of people but one of its main purposes is to reduce traffic on New Forest roads.
This specially-branded New Forest Tour bus is on the new red route which travels through Sandy Balls Holiday Centre at Godshill, Ashurst, Lyndhurst, Burley, Ringwood, and for the first time through the centre of Fordingbridge until 16 September.
If you witness or are involved in an accident involving a pony, donkey, cow, pig or sheep, call the Police (999 for an emergency or 101 if it’s not an emergency). Animal emergency hotline cards also give you the numbers to call if you see sick, injured or distressed animals. Cards are available from garages and Local Information Points across the New Forest. To stock the cards contact the New Forest National Park Authority at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For New Forest Tour route maps and timetables visit www.thenewforesttour.info
Further reading: New Forest Wildlife