Number of horses dying on roads halved last year but figures remain ‘very worrying’

  • Slightly fewer road incidents involving equines have been reported to the British Horse Society (BHS) in the past year, it has emerged, as a new safety video and reporting app have been released.

    The 2020-2021 statistics were due to be announced at the National Equine Forum (NEF) today (4 March). BHS safety director Alan Hiscox told H&H the 1,010 incidents reported was a 3% decrease from last year and that at 46, the number of horses died had nearly halved.

    He added that this may be owing to the fact that there was less traffic, and maybe fewer riders, on the roads during the lockdowns, and that next year’s stats may be a truer picture.

    “But I’m hoping the Dead Slow campaign messages are getting out there,” he said, adding that online events have continued to push these messages.

    Nearly five years on from the launch of the BHS’s Dead Slow campaign, Mr Hiscox said he believes riders are now far better represented as vulnerable road users. The BHS has been working more with other groups such as Cycling UK, Living Streets and motorcycling bodies, as well as participating in the Highway Code review. Reporting of incidents means the BHS is aware of accident hot spots, and can then work with local authorities and police forces on extra signs or measures, or “close pass” mounted operations.

    “These figures are still very worrying but we believe the messages on how to pass horses are getting out there,” he said. “What we really need to do now is to embed behaviour change in drivers, and I hope the Highway Code review will help do that.”

    Mr Hiscox said the Government had some 21,000 responses to the Highway Code review consultation, the highest online response the Department for Transport has ever had, and is now considering these. The BHS will be invited to talk about the final proposals before the code is changed, which may be this autumn.

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    At the NEF, Mr Hiscox was due to present a video featuring the rider of a horse who was spooked by a motorbike passing fast, and was then hit by a car. Both the rider and her mother give their views, as does the car driver, who was not at fault.

    “She did very well not to hit the horse head-on, but wants people to know how hitting a horse can affect you, and damage your vehicle; a message we’re trying to push out to drivers,” he said.

    The BHS is also launching a new “horse i” app on 8 March, to make reporting incidents easier.

    “We know only about one in 10 incidents is reported to us so by having this app, we hope it will make reporting much easier, and get that up to maybe five in 10,” Mr Hiscox said. “This will make it easier to identify those hot spots, and then work with police and local authorities to improve road safety.”

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