New research adds weight to riders’ calls for drivers to pass wide and slow

  • A “considerable proportion” of equestrians experience road rage as well as vehicles passing close and fast, new research has highlighted.

    The study, co-authored by Danica Pollard of the British Horse Society (BHS) and John Grewar, looked at factors associated with collisions and horse fatalities on roads in the UK.

    While the findings may not come as a surprise to riders, the research is significant as its publication in a peer-reviewed journal (Animals, 15 December) adds weight to the equestrian world’s calls for drivers to slow down when passing horses.

    “Although the odds of collision-related incidents have reduced over time, driver awareness of how to pass horses safely on the roads in the UK is still lacking,” it concluded, adding that horse fatalities and rider/handler injury are “intricately linked”, and reducing the risk of injury to horses will reduce human injury and loss of life.

    “Identifying ways in which to reach the wider vehicle-driving community, helping to change their behaviour around horses, and securing funding for such projects is necessary.

    “The use of conspicuous high-visibility clothing was associated with lower collision odds and is a simple step that all equestrians can take to make themselves and their horses more visible.”

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    The research stated that more than 60% of UK horse riders have reported experiencing a road-related near-miss of accident.

    It looked at horse-related road incidents reported to the BHS between 2010 and 2020, finding drivers passes horses too close in 84.2% of incidents. Road rage and speeding were reported in 40.3% and 40.1% of incidents respectively.

    The research found close passing distances were associated with higher odds of a collision, while excess speeds were linked to a greater chance of horse fatality.

    It added that loose horses contribute significantly to road-related horse fatalities and notes that incidents involving free-roaming or feral horses are “severely under-represented and run the risk of exclusion from any future road law and policy changes”.

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