A proactive police force has taken the initiative in educating drivers about how to react to horses on the road.
Nottinghamshire Police has been working with colleagues from South Yorkshire Police, as well as the British Horse Society (BHS) to teach drivers how to overtake safely.
Mounted officers from South Yorkshire Police headed the campaign, taking to the roads in areas identified as high risk to monitor the reactions of motorists.
Drivers perceived to be passing the horses dangerously were stopped by officers from Nottinghamshire Police and the risks of their actions were explained.
During the operation, which ran for a two-hour period on 20 December near Newark, 10 drivers were spoken to and given advice.
The action was prompted by a 75% increase in reported incidents involving horses and motorists in Nottinghamshire last year. Across the East Midlands as a whole, there was a 14% increase in riders reporting problems on the roads.
Nottinghamshire chief inspector Louise Clarke said she was grateful to the officers from South Yorks for helping to tackle the issue and highlighted the important work the BHS is doing to keep roads safe.
“Horses’ natural instinct is to flee from any potential threat and they can be startled by many things. Unfortunately, the consequences of this can be fatal for both the horse and the rider,” she said.
“We’re reminding people to respect their fellow road users – it won’t add much on to your journey to slow down and wait for a safe and appropriate place to overtake.
“By being careless when passing horses, you could be putting someone’s life in danger or threatening the life of their horse. There’s no excuse for driving recklessly and I hope this initiative has educated the people who were stopped.”
The BHS recorded more than 400 road incidents involving horses between 2017 and 2018, with 30% of the riders involved reporting that they received abuse from a motorist.
Out of 404 incidents, 84% occurred because of a car passing too close, 74 horses were injured, 94 riders were injured, while eight horses and one carriage driver were killed.
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Des Payne, safety team leader for the BHS, said: “We are delighted to have collaborated with both Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire Police to help deliver our ‘Dead Slow’ campaign messaging to road users.
“Drivers are often unaware that horses are flight animals and can react quickly when startled. This initiative is designed to not only educate on how to pass horses safely but to help potentially save the lives of riders, horses and drivers.
“If all road users are considerate of one another we can help reduce the risk of incidents.”
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