Road Safety News

Horse riders face ‘threat’ on Britain’s roads

Tuesday 29th March 2016

New statistics published by the British Horse Society (BHS) have highlighted the ‘threat’ horse riders face on Britain’s roads.

The data, published on 24 March, examines the incidents reported to the BHS’s horse accidents website.

It reveals between November 2010 and 1 March 2016, 36 riders were killed as a result of road incidents involving horses that were reported to the charity.

Released to coincide with the launch of a new BHS campaign, the data also highlights that the charity received a total of 2,070 reports of road incidents involving horses during the same period.

The Dead Slow campaign urges drivers to slow down to 15mph when they meet a horse and rider on the road.

The BHS says that 75% of accidents happened because the vehicle passed the horse without allowing enough space, claiming that ‘a lot of people aren’t sure how to safely pass a horse when driving’.

As a result, BHS has published a video showing drivers how to pass a horse on the road.

Lee Hackett, BHS director of policy, said: “We are asking drivers to slow down to 15mph when they see a horse on the road. A lot of people aren’t sure how to safely pass a horse when driving, and so we have produced a video showing exactly how it should be done.

“It's worth remembering that these statistics are just the accidents reported to us, there will be countless others. Almost everyone who rides horses can recount a story about a time they had a near miss on the roads.

“We are campaigning for legislative change, but that can take a long time. That is why we are asking for this instant change in behaviour from drivers.”



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Totally agree Mike, I read some research earlier last week that wearing hi viz whilst riding a horse increases the time the rider is seen by an approaching driver by 3 seconds. Not sure what speed that applied to though.
Dan, Devon

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

I think any responsible driver would slow down to a speed less than 15 miles an hour for horses, and I did say responsible drivers. On country roads especially you never know when you are likely to come across horse and rider. As far as space goes when passing, again a responsible driver will certainly Pass Wide and Slow!

I am in the Hi Viz business, and yes it always helps to wear something in the hi viz line whether it be for the rider or leg bands etc on the horse, however if the driver is driving too fast then bright clothing is not going to stop these accidents, so anything that can be done to help educate drivers to speed limits on country roads where you are most likely to find horse and rider then that has to be a good thing.
Mike Hancox

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

Why should it always be a horse which has to stop for an on-coming vehicle? If safe to do so the politest thing for an approaching driver to do would be stop and let the rider(s) pass.

It's also good to see a comment thread where everybody is pretty much agreeing with each other. This from the threads I have read doesn't occur very often at all. This to me reinforces the severity of the problem.
Dan, Devon

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

Quite shocking statistics. Horses can be nervous and unpredictable, so obviously a good idea to slow right down or stop - I wouldn't put a fixed number like 15mph on that though - even that can be too fast. Riders are very appreciative of drivers who show consideration - it's good to have a rapport with other road users. Very sad if a horse is killed or injured, not to mention the rider. Passing too close surely isn't the only problem - drivers who drive too fast into blind bends on rural roads don't know what lies around the corner.
Paul Biggs, Staffordshire

Agree (17) | Disagree (0)

Iain's comment is a very good point. As a cyclist, I was always told to call out 'Good morning', or similar when approaching a horse and rider. I do this whether coming from behind, or towards. The sound of a human voice not only alerts the rider to a cyclist's presence, but it also serves to assure the horse itself that the strange, silent, predator is in fact a human. Not only that, but it is polite and helps in the whole share the road concept.
David, Suffolk

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I recently presented to a room full of horse riders. I was surprised to find that their biggest concern is cyclists approaching from behind. The lack of noise on approach and sudden appearance can really spook a horse and rider. The riders told me that if they hear an engine approaching from behind they can do a lot to prepare the horse for the event.
Iain Temperton - Norfolk

Agree (23) | Disagree (0)

All a road user needs to know is already in the Highway Code. It also includes advice to riders like not doubling up on narrow roads and not causing unnecessary obstructions. Not all riders wear hi vis tho it is becoming more acceptable to some. Further, some riders that I have seen are in my opinion not old or experienced enough to take a horse out on a road and some horses are well known that they don't like it and still they are made to use the roads. Those sensitive to it should be rode and led as well to maintain some degree of control and safety for the horse, rider and other road users including me. It's a bit of tit for tat. As a motorcyclist I have great regard to these one horse powered vehicles. Slow down as much as I can, reducing rev noises and pass as far away as possible. There is no way I will tangle with a loose horse being so vulnerable myself, I take the greatest care.
R.Craven Blackpool

Agree (14) | Disagree (1)

The video is excellent and makes a very good point. I have to agree that there is no public awareness of the problem, or how to pass equestrians on the highway safely.

However, as an advanced driver trainer working all over the south and west, and into Wales, I am frequently dismayed by the fact that equestrians don't often go out of their way to make themselves more visible.

The pair in the video have superb reflective material making it easy for drivers to see them and plan ahead. I have to admit that in 20 years of training, I have never seen this for real apart from Police horses. Occasionally a rider with a hi-viz jacket on, but that is about it.

An outfit of black helmet, brown jacket, fawn jodhpurs and black boots on a chestnut horse doesn't make for safety. Throw in a very sunny day, the shadows cast by trees and the average (i.e. low) competency of most drivers and you have a collision waiting to happen.
Philip Hastings

Agree (16) | Disagree (2)

Is it my imagination or do we not see anywhere near enough road safety ads like this on mainstream TV these days as we used to?

I know there's social media, but I can't help wondering if the cost of advertising on TV these days makes it prohibitive for charities and road safety groups to air their ads to as wide an audience as possible. Incidentally this particular ad is excellent but I can't help wondering how many will eventually view it.

Perhaps some of the car manufacturers could sponsor air-time for ads such as these - their brand could still benefit from the exposure as well as getting safe driving messages across.
Hugh Jones

Agree (19) | Disagree (0)