Motorists are being urged to hit their brakes and slow down to 15mph when they come across a horse on the road.
The call comes from the British Horse Society (BHS), which is launching a new safety drive in a bid to cut the number of road accidents involving horses.
As part of the Dead Slow campaign’s launch, the BHS has published statistics revealing the extent of the problem.
‘Most accidents on minor roads’
Since it launched its horse accidents website just over five years ago, the BHS says over 2,100 incidents have been reported, most of them on rural minor roads.
Of these, 36 involved the death of a rider with 181 incidents resulting in the death of a horse.
Three-quarters of the accidents are said to have been caused by a vehicle passing too close to the horse. And one in four of those reporting a horse riding accident on the road say they also encountered driver road rage.
The data suggests that June sees more horse riding accidents on the road than any other month and that the majority (60%) happen between 10am and 3pm.
The vast majority (90%) of people reporting such accidents, meanwhile, are women, the statistics show.
BHS’s director of policy, Lee Hackett, says there are “countless” other accidents on top of the ones reported to the website.
The society is calling for legislation to give horses and their riders more protection on the roads. But in the meantime, says Mr Hackett, drivers are being urged to watch the society’s specially-made video which shows motorists how to pass a horse safely.
‘Horses can bolt when startled’
Riders are also being asked to thank drivers who slow down and pass or overtake them responsibly.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ (RoSPA) head of road safety, Kevin Clinton, says motorists should pass horses slowly, smoothly and without revving their engines or sounding their horns.
If there isn’t room to pass safely, he adds, drivers should wait until there is.
Horses can panic and bolt when startled, putting themselves, their rider and other road users at risk.
Source: British Horse Society