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The British Horse Society and Merseyside Police educate drivers to pass horses safely

21 May 2018

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The British Horse Society (BHS) have partnered with Merseyside Road Safety Partnership’s Safer Roads Team and Merseyside Police’s Mounted Unit to deliver ‘Operation Safe Pass’ in the North West.

In 2018, two teenagers were hit by a car while out on their ponies. After this terrifying incident was reported to the BHS, we joined forces with Greater Manchester Police and joint-hosted a ‘Safe Pass’ patrol on the stretch of road where the incident took place.

The road safety initiative aims to reduce the number of incidents between vehicles and horses by using plain-clothes mounted officers to identify drivers who are passing horses too close or too fast. Drivers who do not pass horses wide and slow on the road may be committing a traffic offence that could lead to prosecution.


Merseyside Police used the BHS’ Horse Accidents website to identify ‘hotspot’ areas where high numbers of riders have reported vehicle incidents and near misses. 

Traffic officers carried out the operation on 12 May and identified 27 drivers in 90 minutes who had passed the unmarked mounted officers too fast or too close. The drivers stopped were then educated by traffic officers and the BHS about how to pass horses wide and slow.

The BHS launched their Dead Slow campaign in 2016 in order to make drivers aware of how to pass horses safely on the road. Statistics from the Horse Accidents website showed one in five reported incidents involved a vehicle actually colliding with a horse, and 84% of incidents occurred because the vehicle passed too close or too fast to the horse. Since the launch of the Horse Accidents website, 230 horses have died, and 39 riders have been killed on UK roads.

The charity’s four key messages for drivers when they see a horse on the road are:

  • Slow down to 15mph
  • Be patient, don't sound your horn or rev your engine
  • Pass wide (at least a car's width)
  • Drive slowly away

The British Horse Society’s Director of Safety, Alan Hiscox, said: "We are delighted to be collaborating with Merseyside Police and Merseyside Road Safety Partnership to deliver Operation Safe Pass. Incidents between horses and vehicles are increasing, and this joint initiative can potentially save the lives of riders, horses and drivers. The BHS are educating motorists about what they should do when they encounter horses on the road with our ‘Dead Slow’ Campaign. We encourage all road users to show each other patience and courtesy, and we would urge riders to thank all drivers who pass them safely."

Sergeant Danny Harris of the Merseyside Police Mounted Section said: “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with the BHS and road safety colleagues and are looking to educate both drivers and riders alike to make our roads as safe as possible for all who use them. The BHS Horse Accidents website is a fantastic support that assists us in identifying key locations as risk areas, where we can then focus our attention to improve safety.”

Rebecca Power from Merseyside Road Safety Partnership said: “This is an important initiative which highlights vital safety issues for both riders and motorists. Like the Partnership’s work on the cycle safe pass scheme, it shows the need for extra care in passing situations on the road and we are delighted to be supporting the campaign in this way.”

Report your equine incidents

Reporting your incidents helps us to better understand the rate of equine-related incidents across the UK. Reporting factual data really can make a difference to equine safety and it allows us to lobby and advise MP's, road safety partnerships, the police and other safety organisations. Anyone can report their incidents or near misses to us; 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.

If you are involved in a road incident or near miss, please report it to the BHS via www.horseaccidents.org.uk so that we can continue to campaign for safer roads for all equestrians.


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