As the nights draw in, drivers using New Forest roads are reminded that animal accidents increase in the lead up to Christmas, with November being the deadliest month for livestock.
Commuters are urged to be vigilant as accidents involving animals in the Forest peak between 5pm and 8pm on weekdays in the winter months.
They are also being encouraged to slow down from 40mph to 30mph, a move which adds only three extra minutes to most journeys across the Forest and 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.
The free-roaming animals are known as the ‘architects of the Forest’ – it’s their grazing which helps make the Forest internationally important for wildlife.
Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management and Learning at the New Forest National Park Authority, convenes the Forest’s Animal Accident Reduction Group. He said: ‘It’s the grazing by animals that helps shape and maintain the New Forest we all know and enjoy. We urge drivers to be animal aware at all times and always add extra time to journeys in the Forest. By slowing down at night, especially when oncoming vehicles approach, drivers, their passengers and the animals will be much safer.’
The worst month for animal deaths is November; as days become shorter and clocks go back, journeys to and from work are often in the dark. Low light in winter, dazzling oncoming headlights and bad weather can make visibility poor.