ASSATEAGUE — National Park Service officials this week announced, effectively immediately, speed limits along some roads in Assateague National Seashore have been reduced.
The National Park Service has reduced the speed limit to 15 mph along Bayberry Drive beginning shortly north of the park entrance sign through the bicycle-pedestrian crossing at Oceanside Drive. The section with the reduced speed limit includes the entrance station booths, the entrance and exits to the North Beach campground and ranger station, and the intersections between Bayberry Drive, Bayside Drive and Oceanside Drive.
The 15-mph speed limit area at the end of Bayberry Drive has also been expanded and now includes the approaches to the traffic circle, the circle itself and the approaches to the Oversand Vehicle Zone (OSV) entrance. The speed limit reductions have been made to increase safety in the most congested areas of the park, according to a press release, which read, “Visitors are also cautioned to stay within all posted speed limits, and to exercise extreme caution at night and in periods of low visibility due to fog or rain. The safety of visitors, staff and wildlife require safe and vigilant driving by all concerned. Together, we can make Assateague Island a safer and more enjoyable experience for all.”
In the areas where the speed limit has been reduced to 15-mph, traffic interacts with large numbers of bicycles, pedestrians and wildlife, including the famed wild horses that inhabit the park. While the speed limit reductions are couched in the overall safety of the congested areas of the national seashore, the changes are likely rooted in the safety of the wild horses that inhabit the island.
In July, a wild horse on Assateague was found deceased on the barrier island, the victim of an apparent hit-and-run vehicle collision last week that also injured her young foal. The popular mare Moonshadow was found dead by a park employee in the oceanside campground at the Assateague Island National Seashore. It is believed Moonshadow succumbed to injuries sustained in a hit-and-run vehicle collision. Moonshadow’s three-month old foal, known only thus far as N2BHS-CPK, was also injured in the collision.
Both the mare and her foal were likely involved in a low-speed motor vehicle accident last week along Bayberry Drive. It is fairly frequent for wild horses on Assateague to be struck by vehicles, especially in areas where they tend to interact with traffic.
In the areas of the island where the speed limits have been reduced, vehicle traffic often intermingles with golf cars, ATVs, UTVs and park maintenance vehicles. The congestion and complex traffic flow of the affected areas makes them potentially very dangerous.
Meanwhile, visitors are reminded the speed limit on Oceanside Drive is still 15 mph, and the limit inside the campground loops is 10 mph. The maximum speed limit anywhere within Assateague Island National Seashore is 25 mph. Drivers are remined to always be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially children, and the island’s wildlife.