The British Horse Society (BHS) has teamed up with Oxfordshire County Council to highlight potential safety issues faced by equestrians and educate drivers how to pass horses safely.
With an increasing number of reported incidents involving horses and vehicles, the campaign is designed to make drivers aware of what to do when they encounter horses on the road.
The signs, which instruct drivers how to safely pass horses and riders, follow a tragic road traffic incident involving a rider, whose horse died as a result of the collision in December.
Statistics released by The British Horse Society (BHS) in March revealed road incidents involving horses and vehicles remain a problem in the south of England, with 117 incidents reported to the equine charity during 2020-2021. Overall, incidents in the South of England decreased by just nine per cent compared to the previous year, despite lockdown restricting activity.
The BHS has collated incident statistics to understand the rate of incidents involving horses on UK roads. Of the 1,010 reported, 80 per cent of them occurred due to vehicles passing by too closely and close to half were subject to road rage. The charity has launched a new free safety app, Horse i, which allows riders to report incidents as soon as they get back to the yard.
The charity is urging drivers to be careful when passing horses on the road and encouraging them to adhere to its Dead Slow campaign messages.
Dead Slow was launched to help educate drivers on how to safely pass horses on the road. The campaign consists of four key behavioural change messages to drivers:
If I see a horse on the road then I will … slow down to a maximum of 15mph, be patient - I will not sound my horn or rev my engine, pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width if possible and drive slowly away.
Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society said: “This was an awful accident, and the rider lost her horse as a result. We are pleased to have worked with the Oxfordshire Local Authority to look at what we can do to prevent this happening again. The warning signs, which support the BHS Dead Slow campaign, are now up and we hope they will make a difference for equestrians.”
The new BHS safety app ‘Horse i’ is available to download for free from the Apple store and Google Play. Equestrians who do not use smart phones can record incidents via the online form at horseincidents.org.uk.
Between 2020 – 2021 there were 1,010 road incidents involving horses reported to The British Horse Society. Of these, 46 horses died and 118 were injured. 130 people were injured because of road incidents and 43 per cent of riders were victims to road rage or abuse.
Eighty per cent of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too closely to the horse and 41 per cent of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly.