The British Horse Society (BHS) has teamed up with Northumberland County Council and the ‘Horses and Road Safety Awareness’ (HRSA) organisation to highlight the potential safety issues experienced by horses and riders on the county’s roads.

The county is the first local authority in the country to introduce the signage scheme designed to make drivers aware of what to do when they encounter horses on the road.

It follows an increasing number of reported incidents involving horses and vehicles. Nationally since 2010, more than 3,700 incidents have been reported to the BHS, in which 315 horses and 43 people died.

● 73% of incidents occurred because cars passed too closely to horses

● 31% of incidents were caused by a vehicle passing too quickly

Also nationally, 845 incidents were reported from 1 March 2018 to 28 February 2019, with over a quarter of riders reporting that they were subject to road rage or abuse.

The message to drivers is: If I see a horse on the road, then I will slow down to a maximum of 15mph, be patient; I won’t sound my horn or rev my engine, pass the horse wide and slow when safe to do so – at least a car’s width if possible and drive slowly away.

This message is being conveyed by new signs that will be displayed at various locations across the county where there have been reported incidents or where large numbers of horses use the roads.

Alan Hiscox, director of safety at The British Horse Society said: “Teaming up with Northumberland County Council and the Horses and Road Safety Awareness organisation is a great way to further promote our key safety messages to drivers and help better protect the safety of riders and horses in the region.

“Riders often find themselves having to ride on roads to reach nearby bridleways, therefore it is hoped these signs will help better educate drivers and bring the rate of incidents down.”

The BHS also offers advice for riders to reduce risk, including wearing high visibility clothing when out riding, as well as recommending riders report incidents on their website.

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