Former Top Gear presenter presents hard-hitting riding road safety message

  • Former Top Gear presenter Chris Goffey has joined the battle for safer roads for horses.

    The equestrian enthusiast has been promoting responsible driving around riders by writing in the British Horse Society (BHS) magazine as well as motoring titles.

    Chris spoke about his work at the BHS’s the Real Horsepower Safety Conference on 6 June.

    “The problem is how suddenly as a driver you come across a horse,” said Chris, who has been riding for 40 years.

    “People react in different ways, so if there is an education message, it’s got to be how you react to the horse. And I think [the BHS] has done a very good job with its Dead Slow campaign.

    “15mph is a nice thing to try and remember for people who are not in our world. You can go past a horse, you don’t have to wait for a completely clear road ahead, but you do pass slowly and if the horse does jump [into the road], then you have enough time to react. At 15mph you can stop dead very quickly or you can swerve a bit more.”

    Chris said the challenge is getting the message out to the “wilder” members of the motoring community.

    He added: “The one I thing I have put over, which has gone out in several magazines, Piston Heads was one and some of the performance car titles, was that it’s great fun driving fast, but if you do come round a country bend fast and you did meet a horse then [the consequences can be] very sad for the horse and the rider.

    “If you do hit a horse hard you’re going to sweep its legs away, it weighs half a tonne, and it’s going to come up the bonnet and it’s going to come through the windscreen.

    “Your air bag and seatbelt won’t help you a lot and if it comes through the windscreen it will kill you. And if you don’t believe me, talk to the Swedes, the Canadians or the Norwegians about hitting an elk or a moose, it’s the same thing.

    Continued below…

    “As car design progresses cars are getting very safe, people are starting to rely on object recognition in the car technology, on their engine, brakes, stability control.

    “But I think the mental image of the body of a horse sliding up your bonnet and smashing through your windscreen is quite a strong one, and if we can somehow get that message into younger minds it might do quite a lot of good.”

    Don’t miss next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out Thursday 14 June, for full coverage of the Real Horsepower Safety Conference and what riders can do to improve road safety.

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