The designer of an exercise sheet with built-in indicators and hazard lights hopes to bring it to market, and so help keep horses and riders safer on the road.
Lauren Fitzsimmons, who has just finished a degree in product design at the University of Brighton, came up with the concept of the RoadRug as her final-year project.
She told H&H that as a lifelong equestrian, horse and rider road safety is a topic close to her heart.
“I did a lot of research, and interviewed the chair of the British Horse Society in Northern Ireland, to get her ideas on riding on the road, and that’s when I realised we need more communication between riders and drivers,” she said.
“So I tried to work on ideas to improve communication between them, in a safer manner.”
Lauren said that the rug, of which she has made a prototype, allows riders to signal without taking a hand off the reins, which could improve safety, and also gives signals drivers are more used to seeing and understanding.
The indicators work thanks to buttons on the reins, a microchip and a wireless connection to the LEDs themselves — the aim is to have these at the same brightness as car indicators — and the hazard warning triangle for slowing down.
“I’d like to get it to market; this summer will be the time to get the ball rolling on manufacturing,” she said.
Riders, carriage drivers and individuals are invited to take part in what the British Horse Society is describing as a
“If sharing these pictures makes one person think about wearing high-vis, it’s worth it”
British Horse Society director of safety Alan Hiscox told H&H: “It’s fantastic to see a student looking for a creative solution that could benefit horse riders whilst riding out on the road.
“Anything that increases the visibility and conspicuity of riders and horses is a good thing, but it would need to meet the agreed safety standards. The report we commissioned by the Transport Research Laboratory provided a review of relevant theory and evidence relating to the impact that interventions such as high-visibility clothing and lighting may have on road safety for horses and their riders.
“We would also recommend that riders remain vigilant to their surroundings; even when using innovative products, you need to be aware of where vehicles are.”
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