As some of Britain’s most vulnerable road users, horse riders and carriage drivers are being urged to give their views on whether lowering speed limits will make our roads safer.
Every year, hundreds of horses and riders are involved in accidents on our roads. In 2011, 225 incidents involving horses on the road were reported through the dedicated accident recording website, www.horseaccidents.org.uk. This included 18 severe rider injuries and eight rider fatalities.
The British Horse Society, the charity that funds the website on behalf of all equestrians, fears that this figure is just the tip of the iceberg, and that many more incidents go unreported. It is a sad fact that a horse can be killed, or a vehicle written off and the accident may not be recorded anywhere.
Consequently, the charity has welcomed the Government’s consultation on guidance to traffic authorities for setting local speed limits. Lowering limits on roads which form part of a recognised route for vulnerable road users could be invaluable to improving road safety.
However, the BHS agrees with Government that speed limit changes are unlikely to fully address the problem of accidents on rural roads and that a wider range of measures will be needed to be implemented.
In addition, speed limits are not a target and factors such as the time of day and weather conditions will affect what is an appropriate speed to travel on a particular stretch of road.