Dartmoor ponies to wear reflective neck bands after ‘sickening’ number of road accidents

  • More than 200 ponies and cows on Dartmoor have been given reflective neckbands in an attempt to prevent road collisions.

    The idea came from Dartmoor Forest Parish Council, which said accidents and deaths of animals were a major concern. The council successfully bid for £6,306 from the Vision Sero South West road safety partnership.

    The scheme, through which bands were issued to farmers, was launched on 24 June.

    Dartmoor livestock protection officer Karla McKechnie said the unfenced roads become “death traps” if drivers are not animal-aware.

    “I am sickened and saddened by the high number of collisions I attend involving dead and dying animals,” she said. “If you witness an animal being hit, please call me urgently on 07873 587561.”

    Cllr Mark Williams of Dartmoor Forest Parish Council said: “The B3212 is the busiest of the two main roads across Dartmoor, the arterial route from Plymouth on to the moor. The stretch between Peek Hill and Princetown is unfenced, with a speed limit of 40mph, and runs across Walkhampton Common, where around 150 cattle and 80 ponies roam freely.

    “Collisions involving vehicles hitting animals are unfortunately frequent. There were 117 involving animals on Dartmoor in 2021 recorded by the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society. Most result in the death of the animal and heavy damage to the vehicle involved. Some also result in injury to drivers and passengers.”

    Cllr Williams said the council had worked with the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society, Dartmoor National Park Authority, Devon County Council highways, the Dartmoor Commoners’ Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, Dartmoor Speedwatch and Burrator Parish Council on the scheme.

    Andrew Watson, head of recreation and access at Dartmoor National Park said: “The national park sees thousands of visitors each year, attracted by the vast open areas of moorland with unfenced roads and grazing livestock. The authority is delighted to be part of this partnership, working to reduce the number of animal deaths and injuries across Dartmoor, and improve road safety for all visitors and residents.”

    The funding has also paid for an interactive speed sign, and improved signs alerting drivers. Cllr Williams added: “These neck bands have proved successful in their use in the New Forest. We hope these measures will raise driver awareness of the need for caution and reduced speed on this stretch of road, and that traffic collisions and incidents involving livestock will be reduced as a result.

    “If this initiative proves successful the aim is to roll out similar measures on other key routes across the moor, should additional funding become available.”

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