Keeping horses safe on our roads is incredibly important and something that affects every equestrian across the country. Riders need to take every precaution possible when out hacking, from wearing hi-vis to using effective hand signals. But the responsibility is not just on the riders; it’s also on the drivers themselves.

Part of my job as Director of Safety at The British Horse Society is to try and reach other road users, and involve and inform them on what to do when they encounter a horse. By involving road users, we can help reduce the worryingly high number of horses killed on our roads. In my time as a mounted police officer, I have experienced first-hand the horrible consequences that road incidents can have on both drivers and riders alike. Having regular conversations with drivers plays a critical part in reducing the number of incidents where horses are injured or even tragically killed.

A critical part of this is making sure many more road users know and follow the Highway Code. As part of our Dead Slow campaign, our guidance was successfully incorporated into the Highway Code in 2022, meaning the advisory speed at which to pass ridden horses or horse-drawn vehicles was set at a maximum of 10mph, and drivers should now allow at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space.

This was an incredible achievement that has made a real impact on the safety of equestrians. But unfortunately, we have found that a vast majority of drivers are still unaware of these changes.

Spreading awareness

Part of my regular routine is meeting road users face-to-face in any way I can. I find that talking directly to drivers, explaining our guidance and the importance of following it, is the best way to connect with them and make a real difference.

Over the past year, the BHS has visited Car Fest, The Camping and Caravan Show and over 40 Safer Driver, Safer Rider, Safer Horses events. We want to instigate real change when talking to the public at these events. We’ve also ticked off some real milestones presenting at the Road Safety GB Conference, as well as attending the UKROEd National Conference and national driving instructors’ conferences, where we address key influencers in the road safety world.

Being pro-active in our safety work is where my work feels so satisfying. By talking to motorists plainly about our advice, I have had some truly insightful conversations and I always feel the Safety Team is making a real difference.

In all my years of working on road safety, I have seen and handled some truly awful cases. By keeping regular conversations with stakeholders going, we will, hopefully, help to reduce the number of tragic incidents from occurring on our roads.

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