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The New Forest National Park is considering following a Dartmoor trial to reduce pony road deaths

Some say car-centric societies will do anything in the name of road safety apart from tackle the dominance of the motor car - even if that means daubing ponies with hi-vis paint.

Those seeking further evidence of this could do worse than look to the New Forest, where the latest attempt to stop so many of its famous ponies being hit by cars is to paint them with fluorescent, glow-in-the-dark paint so drivers can better see them at night.

If the scheme trial goes ahead the New Forest will be following in the footsteps of Dartmoor, whose eponymous ponies were painted with blue and yellow stripes after almost 80 died in crashes last year. In the New Forest the pony death toll is similarly high.

Volvo Life Paint - road.cc readers give their verdict

However, as the Daily Echo notes, there are major hurdles to be overcome before the Dartmoor scheme starts looking viable long-term, namely that the paint fades quickly and must be reapplied every three or four days.

Last year a similar product was launched for cyclists. LifePaint, a reflective substance produced by car manufacturer Volvo, was introduced to help drivers see people on bikes at night. After an initial freebies trial – where cans of Life Paint flew off the shelves - the product is now being sold across the UK - at £10 a can - but as with the pony paint, wears and washes off quickly.

Mike Coper, a former Commoners’ Defence Association (CDA) Chairman, is supportive of spray painting the ponies in addition to the reflective collars many of them already wear.

He told the Daily Echo: “Anything that helps protect the animals and doesn’t do them any harm has got to be worth a go.

“Many of the ponies in the Forest are already wearing reflective collars. They do a very good job but they don’t stop all accidents.”

The current CDA chairman, Graham Ferris, said: “We are aware of the Dartmoor initiative and will be watching with interest to see how well it works in practice.

“I have significant doubts about the practicality and effectiveness of the scheme but that won’t stop us looking at it.”

Nigel Matthews, the New Forest National Park’s head of recreation management and learning, said: “The Dartmoor idea is an eye-catching way to raise awareness of animal accidents and was discussed at our last meeting.

“We will be watching developments on Dartmoor with interest to see what we can learn.”

Previous road safety interventions in the New Forest have focused on cyclists, namely through issuing a charter (which was later called discriminatory and disproportionate by cyclists). In 2014 the National Park was forced to return millions of pounds of government cycling money, after plans emerged that showed the money would largely be spent on road maintenance.

20 comments

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bikebot [2119 posts] 1 year ago
13 likes

Obviously the ponies should also be wearing helmets, otherwise it's just silly.

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brooksby [2710 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Didn't they try something like this Scandinavia, too? (which is where Life Paint came from, cos cyclists and pedestrians are just like reindeer, aren't we?).  IIRC, it made no difference whatsoever to animal fatilities or to collisions between said animals and motor vehicles (or, presumably, for that matter, bicycles).

(Mind you, if we're going to start spray painting livestock, can we please get people to spray paint their dogs that they insist on walking off the lead along one of my local cycle paths...).

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Gus T [321 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Of course introducing speed calming measures would have no effect on the number of ponies killed would it.

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Dr. Ko [206 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Maybe I miss the point, there is fashion out there, that has the same reflectivity of that bloody paint. 

But painting ponies is a bit crazy. surpriseAfter all "my morning" stag and myself get along just fine - so far - without the stag being painted. (Coming to think about it, I'm wearing high vis clothing and use Hope hubs... so maybe the cars need to wear high-vis paint!

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Housecathst [608 posts] 1 year ago
12 likes

I thought all pony deaths in the New forest were cased by cyclists on sportives. I shocked to learn that it's in fact motorists casing the death of hounds  of ponys in the new forest. 

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Must be Mad [625 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Drive and cycle over Dartmoor frequently, however this is the first time I have hear of these scheme, certainly never spotted any paint on the ponies I came across. 

 

 

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burtthebike [1222 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes

Why don't the get them to wear hi viz tabards?  They won't wash off.

Or they could just make the drivers behave as if other life forms mattered.

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wycombewheeler [1237 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:

Didn't they try something like this Scandinavia, too? (which is where Life Paint came from, cos cyclists and pedestrians are just like reindeer, aren't we?).  IIRC, it made no difference whatsoever to animal fatilities or to collisions between said animals and motor vehicles (or, presumably, for that matter, bicycles).

(Mind you, if we're going to start spray painting livestock, can we please get people to spray paint their dogs that they insist on walking off the lead along one of my local cycle paths...).

Better off the lead than in the end of a 10m wire.

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kil0ran [598 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes

I drive across the Forest pretty much every day and have done for 6 years. The only factor in pony deaths is driving too fast for the conditions (or, more accurately, not being able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear).

The thing with ponies is, their main focus in life is grass and they spend most of their time standing still with their heads down eating it. They're not galloping across the road from nowhere - the only animal you'll have do that is deer - and they're not included in the casualty figures. For the record, 125 ponies, sheep, pigs, donkeys, and cows were killed or injured in 2015.

Getting back to grass, ponies have little awareness that they have an arse and as such you do find them munching on a verge whilst standing in the road. They also have no road sense - they will *walk* out in front of a car if they've set their mind on getting across to that uncropped grass just over there.

In my six years of driving here (20 miles a day with 5 months per year of dark commuting) I've had one near miss and that was at 30mph on a really shitty night. Had I been doing the speed limit (usually 40mph on the unfenced roads) there's no way I would have stopped in time. Of course, if you do 40mph you still get overtaken no matter what the conditions. The thing is, in daytime most of the long straight roads are perfectly safe at over 40mph - deer aren't on the move and all the livestock is busy eating. Most unfenced roads are across heathland and sightlines are good.

If anyone is interested in the cold hard facts behind this story there are accident figures going back to 1956 here

Proof that speed is the primary factor is clear. In 91 there were 182 fatalities, in 1990 after the introduction of the 40mph speed limit that figure dropped to 117 (it went back up the following year but has been tailing off ever since). Lowest on record was 2012 - 68 killed and its hovered around that range for years.

Have to wonder what the point of this scheme is - there are 5000 ponies on the Forest and for the last 4 years the fatality ratio has been around 0.75%.

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wycombewheeler [1237 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Solution is to release moose to roam with the ponies. Should quickly result on more careful drivers, as hitting a moose is not something drivers would care to repeat.

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Simon E [3154 posts] 1 year ago
9 likes

"Anything that helps protect the animals and doesn’t do them any harm has got to be worth a go."

Ban cars from the forest. Problem solved.  3

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ChairRDRF [366 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

"...doesn't do them any harm".

The problem is that the culture of shifting responsibility away from drivers DOES  exacerbate the potential of drivers to harm others on or near the road, including ponies.

As we say here: http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/10/31/hi-viz-for-cyclists-and-pedestrians-sensib... and , for some cases where the SMIDSY excuse is used here: http://rdrf.org.uk/2012/03/01/sorry-mate/

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brooksby [2710 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:
brooksby wrote:

Didn't they try something like this Scandinavia, too? (which is where Life Paint came from, cos cyclists and pedestrians are just like reindeer, aren't we?).  IIRC, it made no difference whatsoever to animal fatilities or to collisions between said animals and motor vehicles (or, presumably, for that matter, bicycles).

(Mind you, if we're going to start spray painting livestock, can we please get people to spray paint their dogs that they insist on walking off the lead along one of my local cycle paths...).

Better off the lead than in the end of a 10m wire.

True, I suppose. Best would be, in the dark keep it on a short lead unless your dog is naturally phosphorescent (few breeds are, so I'm told).

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Leviathan [2868 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I will destroy you.

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brooksby [2710 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

[edit] correcting a double post. Sorry.

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Paul_C [523 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:

Didn't they try something like this Scandinavia, too? (which is where Life Paint came from, cos cyclists and pedestrians are just like reindeer, aren't we?).  IIRC, it made no difference whatsoever to animal fatilities or to collisions between said animals and motor vehicles (or, presumably, for that matter, bicycles).

(Mind you, if we're going to start spray painting livestock, can we please get people to spray paint their dogs that they insist on walking off the lead along one of my local cycle paths...).

they've tried putting reflective collars on the cows that roam Minchinhampton common near me... doesn't work... idiots are still crashing in to them...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-34528402

wow, they're now considering painting them with luminous paint?

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Mark By [49 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Law of unintended consequences:

1. Motorists think they've got more time to see the day-glo animals

2. Motorists then drive faster

3. Which leads to..

A better idea might be variable speed limits between daylight and nighttime, .e.g. 40 mph in the day and 30 mph night or in poor visibility. This technology is available. And a much stricter enforcement of the law.

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Man of Lard [338 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

It's the ultimate in victim-blaming - the ponies are doing nothing wrong and they're the ones being made to modify their appearance. The CDA should post marksmen and take out a few speeders, that would ginger up the driving loons a bit.

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part_robot [272 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I'd like them to paint the cows too. Even with my powerful front light I came unnervingly close to hitting one in the depths of night recently. Stealthy buggers.

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PhilRuss [395 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Nah...Compulsory Pony Lanes is the answer....and hit the arrogant animals with on-the-spot fines when they don't use 'em.