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Hi-vis paint for New Forest ponies?

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 - 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.

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