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Horses and Road Safety

As much as most horse riders would probably prefer not to ride on roads, sometimes it is necessary and both horse riders and carriage drivers have the right to use a road as much as any vehicle. therefore it is the responsibility of both the horse rider (or carriage driver) and vehicle driver to both use the road safely and in a courteous way.

Over recent years there have been thousands of avoidable incidents involving horses and road vehicles and sadly a number of them have caused serious injury or even fatalities of horses or riders. There are a number of campaigns that have been launched to educate horse riders and other road users on the safest way to use the roads together and hopefully avoid future unnecessary incidents. We are supporting the 'Pass Wide and Slow' campaign and have also included some information from the British Horse Society's 'Dead or Dead Slow' campaign.

The Pass Wide and Slow campaign

The Pass Wide and Slow campaign aims to raise awareness and educate drivers on how to pass horses safely, and the reasons why. The campaign has a Facebook group to provide this information and to help support riders. See some of their posters below.

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British Horse Society advice for road users

Advice for riders and carriage drivers

  • Always wear hi-viz clothing and put hi-viz equipment on your horse – even on bright days, it is surprising how well a horse can be camouflaged against a hedge. 

  • Wear protective headgear to current approved standards

  • Unless absolutely necessary, we highly recommend you avoid riding in failing light, fog or darkness or when it is snowing or icy

  • Show courtesy to drivers – a smile and a nod are enough if your hands are full

  • Take The British Horse Society Ride Safe Award

  • Be aware of your surroundings and give clear and decisive signals

  • Adhere to the Highway Code

 

Four simple steps for drivers

1. Slow down to a maximum of 15mph

2. Be patient, I won't sound my horn or rev my engine

3. Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car's width if possible

4. Drive slowly away.

Reporting an incident through the British Horse Society

The British Horse Society is urging all riders and carriage drivers to report any incidents they are involved in, regardless of severity, to them.

Reporting your incidents helps them to better understand the rate of equine-related incidents across the UK.

 

Anyone can report their incidents or near misses to them; you don’t have to be a BHS member. It is vital each and every incident is recorded in order to be added to our national statistics. For the latest facts and figures on road incidents involving horses, please visit the British Horse Society website. 

To report an incident, clink on the button below to take you to the BHS website.

Report for the British Horse Society into the conspicuity of horse riders

The literature on visibility and conspicuity was reviewed, in order that the best advice for horse riders could be provided with the aim of increasing their safety (and that of their mounts) when riding on public roads. The main scenario considered was that which occurs when riders are approached by motor vehicles from behind, often at speed. Research with horses and with other vulnerable road user groups (pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists) was included, and knowledge regarding the human visual system, in relation to object detection and judgement of approach, was considered. Three recommendations were made. First, speed limits on national speed limit roads with frequent equestrian activity should be reduced. Second, riders should choose to wear lights wherever possible, ideally in a pattern that highlights their width (lights on their shoulders and the flanks of their horse, for example). Third, in the absence of lights, riders should wear high visibility and reflective clothing, choosing a colour appropriate for their riding environment.

Download and read the report by clicking on the PDF below.