News that the proportion of drivers who admit to speeding on rural roads has risen significantly in the past year is a major concern for equestrians.
The RAC 2022 report on motoring found that 48% of the 3,102 drivers questioned had broken the speed limit on 60mph rural roads, up from 44% in 2021. This matches the 2016 record.
A total of 8% confessed they had done this frequently, and 40% had occasionally, on up to half their journeys on these roads.
The British Horse Society (BHS) said the stats were “extremely concerning”
“This is especially alarming for horse riders, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users, who may be at a greater risk of an accident due to the increased speed of vehicles on these roads,” a BHS spokesman told H&H, adding that the charity is “committed” to creating awareness about passing horses safely on the roads.
“The number of road incidents involving horses continues to rise across the UK, with reports of two horses killed on Britain’s roads already this year. This follows the 68 equine deaths logged via the BHS Horse i app in 2022, with an additional 125 injured and 139 human injuries. Of these, 78% of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly.
“This highlights the need for drivers to reduce their speed when driving on rural roads to help prevent the occurrence of further incidents.”
The spokesman noted that the Highway Code was revised in January 2022, setting the advisory speed for passing riders or horse-drawn vehicles to 10mph with at least 2m space.
The RAC survey found that 48% believe that some 60mph limits on unclassified rural roads should be reduced.
“The recent increase in the proportion of drivers admitting to speeding on 60mph rural roads is extremely worrying as more people lose their lives every year in collisions on these roads than on any other,” said Simon Williams of the RAC.
“It’s even more concerning that this figure is now back to the all-time high of 48%.
“We think the Government should address the issue of fatalities on 60mph rural roads by advising roads authorities to reduce limits on the most dangerous stretches to more appropriate levels.”
He added that in 2021, 253 people died in collisions where someone was exceeding the speed limit.
“Drivers sometimes forget or underestimate the role speed plays in fatal and serious collisions as they tend not to see it in the same light as offences like drink or drug-driving or talking on a handheld phone,” he said.
A Department for Transport spokesman told H&H: “While we have some of the safest roads in the world, we are committed to reducing road collisions by tackling dangerous driving.
“Local authorities have the power to set local speed limits, and we will always consider what additional measures can be explored to effectively enhance road safety.”
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.