The British Horse Society was saddened to learn of the recent tragic accident in which a rider suffered a broken back and her horse killed, following a collision with a van in the New Forest. The Society says the tragedy highlights the need to educate motorists on how to pass horses on the road safely.
Sheila Hardy, Senior Executive (BHS Safety), says: “Road accidents, where vehicles collide with horses, are serious for all involved and as we have seen in this instance, can result in tragic consequences involving severe injuries and even fatalities.
“We believe that it is important for all types of road users to work together in order to increase the safety of our roads for all, and to this end, we have developed several road safety leaflets, including Horse rider safety: Look at it from my point of view produced in conjunction with GEM Motoring Assist.” The leaflet aims to enable horse riders and motorists to better understand the other and inform drivers of the safety issues surrounding horse riders on the road. The leaflet can be downloaded from the BHS website, www.bhs.org.uk.
Drivers are reminded that horses on the road can be unpredictable, despite the best efforts of even the most experienced rider, and drivers should always treat horses as a potential hazard and drive slowly, with caution, around them. Key points for drivers to remember are:
• When passing horses, leave as much room as the road allows and do not accelerate either when passing the horse or immediately after, as this could cause the horse to panic.
• Exert even greater care on narrow country lanes by keeping your speed down, especially on bends.
• Be alert when encountering a horse rider and take heed of any signals the rider is making to slow down or stop, as they may be able to see something that you cannot and will feel how the horse may react.
• It is sometimes necessary for riders to be two abreast on the road. One may be a young or novice horse or rider and so it is safer for these animals to be on the inside with a more experienced horse and rider on the outside.
It is not just drivers who have responsibility for safety on the road. Riders are encouraged to stay alert and ensure they cause as little inconvenience to drivers as possible.
Sheila Hardy advises: “The British Horse Society also educates horse riders on road safety and what they can do to protect themselves and their horse on the road. We would stress the importance of wearing hi-viz garments that meet the recommended safety standards EN1150 or EN471 for both horse and rider – giving drivers precious additional seconds in order to see them – and to always be courteous to drivers who pass them with care.”
The Society also offers a website dedicated to the reporting of road accidents and other incidents involving horses, www.horseaccidents.org.uk, which provides further information on road safety.