The BHS collates statistics each year and the latest report shows road incidents involving horses and vehicles are continuing to rise - up a shocking 23% on 2019 - with 1,037 incidents reported over the past 12 months. Of these 1,037 cases, 81% of them occurred due to vehicles passing horses too closely and nearly half had an element of road rage. These incidents resulted in the death of one rider and 135 people being injured with 80 horses being killed and 136 seriously hurt.
What is even more of a concern for me is that we know that only one in ten incidents are being logged – so the real number could well be over 10,000! For that reason, we at The BHS are heavily lobbying our members to report incidents in the hope that we can at least shift that one in 10 figure to one in five. We are about to launch a new app to make reporting much easier – and so we hope to get much more accurate figures in 2021.
It is vital to remember that horses are flight animals and may move quickly away from what they perceive as a threat - this sudden action can have serious consequences for the rider, horse, vehicle and its occupants.
In terms of best practice for drivers we have four simple guidelines:
- Slow down to a maximum of 15mph
- Be patient – don’t sound your horn or rev your engine
- Pass the horse wide and slow. The rider will be aware of you and let you pass when it is safe to do so. Please allow at least a car’s width if possible
- Drive slowly away.
I can’t stress how important Dead Slow is as a campaign. While this year’s report is very worrying, it follows a sad trend over the last decade that has seen 44 people lose their lives and 1,220 being injured; 395 horses have been killed and 1,080 have been injured. So please, please as National Road Safety Week promotes ways to reduce road crashes, I am hoping that people will think about all users – if everyone works together with mutual respect, the roads will be safer for us all.
The BHS encourages all incidents to be reported to horseaccidents.org.uk
Director of Safety for The British Horse Society