High visibility safety panels are to be distributed to visitors of Appleby Fair (7 – 14 June) this year in a bid to reduce the number of road accidents.

The reflective red and yellow strips have been produced by Cumbria and Durham police forces and local councils. Owners of the distinctive “bow top” horse-drawn carriages, which predominate at the fair, will be encouraged to place the panels on the rear of their carriages.

Ruth Scott, Principal Travellers’ Liaison Officer for Durham County Council, told H&H: “The response from the travellers has been very good — we have very few of the panels left.”

PC Dave Nixon, road casualty reduction officer for Durham Constabulary, said: “Most bow tops have a green canvas covering which can cause them to merge with the surrounding countryside, so to minimise the risk we are encouraging travellers to use the reflective markers.”

He added: “This will ensure they have a much better chance of being seen by following motorists, especially on the faster, busier roads such as the A66.”

Last year David Ward of Coxhoe, Durham, was killed when his carriage collided with a Vauxhall Astra on the A66 near Stainmore.

Police and traveller liaison staff will also be distributing leaflets containing practical road safety advice.

Ms Scott said: “It’s not illegal for horse-drawn carriages to go on the roads so we’re just raising people’s awareness. We included travellers in the consultation — we have a very good engagement with them.”

The annual gathering of Romany horse traders has existed since 1685 and has grown in size and popularity over recent years. The horses traded are primarily piebald and skewbald heavyweight cobs.