Deaths of three horses and one rider on county’s roads prompts council to act

  • The deaths and serious injuries of horses and riders on Devon’s roads have prompted the county council to support the British Horse Society’s (BHS) Dead Slow safety campaign.

    New roadside posters encouraging drivers to slow down for horses and riders are being displayed in parts of the county. This includes Killerton and Poltimore, and gateways to Dartmoor at Holne, Wotter, Meavy and Cornwood.

    After a rider highlighted the issue of road safety following near-misses out hacking, Devon County Council teamed up with the BHS, non-profit organisation Horses & Road Safety Awareness (HRSA) and road safety partnership Vision Zero South West to promote the campaign.

    “Horses and Road Safety Awareness began as a group to let riders share their experiences of riding on the road. Over the years we have supported many people through the trauma of injury and the loss of their beloved companions,” said HRSA founder, Hayley Stokes.

    “The damage to humans, horses and cars can be catastrophic when an incident occurs and it never needs to be.

    “By working cooperatively with the BHS and the council we hope to at least make drivers aware of their actions and the law.

    “We want drivers, cyclists and riders to work together and find compassion for each other to make the road a safer place for everyone to enjoy. The posters are there to protect everyone. Thank you to Devon County Council for supporting the Dead Slow campaign.”

    The campaign’s aim is to educate motorists on passing horses safely. The posters advise drivers to reduce their speed to a maximum of 10mph and leave at least two metres’ space, in accordance with Highway Code guidance.

    Since 2018, around 375 incidents involving equestrians on Devon’s roads have been reported to the police and the BHS. Collisions have resulted in 19 horses being injured and three dead, with 29 riders injured and one killed.

    “It’s essential for motorists to slow down and leave plenty of room when passing horses, and hopefully these new posters will put that at the forefront of people’s minds when on our roads,” said Cllr Stuart Hughes, cabinet member for highway management and vice-chairman of Vision Zero South West.

    “Horse riders have the same right to be on the road as motorists, but they are vulnerable and horses can be startled, despite the best efforts of the rider.
    “Far too many horses and riders have been killed or injured on Devon’s roads in recent years, and we can all play a part in reducing the number of incidents. I would urge all road users to respect each other’s safety as well as their own.”

    BHS director of safety Alan Hiscox said: “Horses are still being killed and injured on our roads, riders continue to be seriously injured and too many drivers underestimate the importance of driving carefully around horses.

    He added: “Together, we can stop these tragic incidents from happening over and over again. To do this, it is essential that we all follow the Highway Code guidelines, which are aligned with our key Dead Slow behavioural messages.

    “Collaborating with Devon County Council, and displaying these posters, will be a critical step towards driving greater awareness and ultimately improving the safety of all vulnerable road users.”

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