The British Horse Society (BHS) has welcomed Highway Code changes, following reports of four horses killed on Britain’s roads already this year.

Fatal incidents include the collision involving two horses, Cassie and Jack (pictured top and below), and their riders near Epping Forest earlier this month.

Horses Cassie and Jack

This follows 46 equine deaths reported to the charity in 2021, with an additional 118 being injured and 130 human injuries.

The equine charity is “delighted to see the positive changes being implemented”, many of which were a result of the BHS’s involvement in the Highway Code review’s stakeholder group for vulnerable road users.

The changes, due to come into effect on 29 January will help to keep horses, riders, handlers and carriage drivers safer on UK roads.

The BHS has lobbied and collaborated with Cycling UK, DVSA, Living Streets and the Department for Transport (DfT) to suggest the Highway Code improvements and to represent equestrians in the review.

One of the main changes is a new Hierarchy of Road Users, where horses are now alongside pedestrians and cyclists, as vulnerable road users. This new rule highlights that, irrespective of method of transport, those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.

The advisory speed at which to pass people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles has been reduced from 15mph to 10mph, and drivers must allow at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space.

The BHS’s Dead Slow messaging will now be incorporated within the Highway Code, including how to pass feral/semi feral horses on Exmoor/Dartmoor and New Forest, as well as a recommendation for horse riders to complete the BHS Ride Safe Award as a reference of best practise.

“We are thrilled that our hard work has paid off and these crucial changes to the Highway Code will be brought in,” said Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at the BHS.

“I am very pleased that the BHS was able to represent the equestrian community within the DfT’s Highway Code stakeholder group to ensure that all equestrians were included in the changes. They are a significant step forward for equestrian road safety and will help protect vulnerable road users, making the roads safer for everyone.”

Dead Slow campaign

Dead Slow was launched to help better educate drivers on how to safely pass horses on the road. The campaign consists of four key behavioural change messages to drivers:

If I see a horse on the road then I will …

  • Slow down to a maximum of 10mph
  • Be patient – I will not sound my horn or rev my engine
  • Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width if possible
  • Drive slowly away

The charity is urging equestrians to report any incidents they experience on the roads using the BHS’s “Horse i” app, which gathers data to help strengthen the BHS’s voice when implementing positive changes such as this one.

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