A total of 3,383 road incidents involving horses were reported to the British Horse Society (BHS) last year, with 66 of these horses being killed and another 86 injured. It means that more than one horse still dies on the road every week in the UK. According to the latest statistics that were released by the charity today (29 January), three people died as a result of a road incident while a further 94 were injured.

Of the incidents reported, 85% occurred because a vehicle passed too quickly or too closely — a year-on-year increase of 3%. This rise is despite the changes made to the Highway Code in 2022, when the advisory speed at which to pass ridden horses or horse-drawn vehicles was set at a maximum of 10mph, with drivers allowing at least two metres of space. The message from Alan Hiscox, an ex-mounted police officer who is now Director of Safety at the BHS, is that there is still a large number of road users who do not know and follow the Highway Code.

“Looking at the 2023 statistics, it is clear that some road users are still underestimating the huge importance of driving carefully when overtaking or approaching horses,” said Alan. “This is despite the significant changes implemented in the Highway Code in 2022, which set out clear guidance for passing equestrians safely.”

The latest road statistics are a fraction lower than those released by the BHS in 2022, when 3,552 road incidents involving horses were logged — a decrease of 169 last year. There were 139 people injured as result of a road incident in 2022, when 125 horses were harmed and 68 horses died.

Since 2010, there have been 15,496 road incidents involving horses reported to the BHS. Of these, 47 people died and 1,686 were injured, while 636 horses were killed and 1,522 injured. However, these statistics only reflect incidents reported to the BHS. The charity urges every incident or near-miss to be reported to them, as well as to the police via Operation Snap.

Operation Snap is a national initiative by the police force to provide a more streamlined way for members of the public to submit video and photographic evidence relating to driving offences that occur on the road. Find out more here.

“To support equestrians and drive vital change, the BHS continues to inform and involve road users on how to pass horses safely as well as encourage them to evaluate how impactful passing horses too quickly and closely can be. But we couldn’t do this without your help,” adds Alan.

“We need factual data to identify hotspots, advise MP’s and significant stakeholders, and most importantly, work towards a permanent change in some driver’s behaviour. By downloading the Horse i app and recording any incidents you have been involved in, we can work together to make the roads safer for you and your horse.”

Main image by Shutterstock 

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