Drivers urged to cut their speed and give more space after horse road incidents double

Published 08 May 2019

The number of horses involved in road incidents has more than doubled in a year, according to new statistics.

Over 845 road incidents involving horses were reported to The British Horse Society (BHS) in 2018/2019, a significant increase on the 404 cases recorded during the previous year. 

The data shows that 87 horses and four people were killed riding on the UK's roads, with 73 per cent of reported incidents being caused by vehicles passing too closely. The BHS has labelled the new figures as ‘shocking’ and urged drivers to slow down and provide more space when passing horses on the road.

“The dramatic increase in incidents is of huge concern, but we are aware that only one in 10 accidents are reported to us, therefore these figures are only the tip of the iceberg,” warned Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at the BHS.

Caution Horses On Road

Since 2010 there have been almost 4000 road incidents involving horses, with 43 people losing their lives and a further 1085 being injured. More than 300 horses have been killed over the same nine year period.

The latest figures show that insufficient space to pass is the number one cause of incidents between horses and cars, while a third of riders say they have been a victim of road rage or abuse over the past 12 months.

The BHS says it is working on a smartphone app that will allow riders to report incidents easily and quickly. The app allows the user to select the type of incident they were involved in whilst also recording the location and time.

The charity has also launched the ‘Dead Slow’ road safety campaign to urge drivers to slow down to a maximum of 15mph when approaching horses, leave a car’s width when passing, and to drive slowly away.


Captain-Cretin    on 9 May 2019

I am more than happy to slow down for horses, but sometimes it is not enough; a local stable takes their flighty horses out onto local lanes and sometimes they go ape; more than once I have had to stop and actually switch my engine off before they could calm horse the down.

Another issue, not so much this time of year, is riding horses on the roads in twilight, had a close call on a fast main road a few years ago; why arent they required to have a warning light, even a cyclist is supposed to have one.

Paul RC    on 13 May 2019

Here's another idea. How about horses being proscribed from roads where there is no bridleway, and removing these 19th century animals from 21st century roads. They are a hazard to cars, pedestrians and themselves. Not to mention the faeces in the road.

Richard-C    on 13 May 2019

Cars (4x4) banned from green lanes which are 19th Century leftovers seems quite reasonable. Horses banned from 20th and 21st Century roads designed for motor vehicles seems reasonable. Insurance for car drivers required by law seems reasonable. Insurance for horse riders seems reasonable but it’s not required. Driving test for car drivers seems reasonable. Test for horse riders seems reasonable but it’s not required.

Horses in fields and appropriate race tracks seems a good idea. Cars on roads and appropriate race tracks seems a good idea. More accidents and people seriously injured by horses than by any other “pet” I don’t understand why they aren’t considered dangerous animals and banned altogether.

Maybe Honest John could have a horse section. Horse and Cars instead of Horse and Hounds. It would be interesting to know whether there is any good reason for a horse to be anywhere near a road,

Karen's kars    on 13 May 2019

Absolutely agree, car owners pay for the road, horses don't. So on that basis alone horses get lost.

Alastair Gordon    on 13 May 2019

These responses are disturbing and demonstrate a hostility to road users. Horses and horse drawn vehicles are the longest established road users other than pedestrians. Most horse riders and drivers carry at least third party insurance.

When car driving I endeavour to show courtesy and safety for other users including pedestrians, cyclists, learners, children and the elderly - and the odd slow car driver or caravan. This keeps me and my passengers safe as well as the third parties.

Ill mannered road usage whether by massive bunches of cyclists, impatient vehicle drivers, careless riders or pedestrians can lead to serious accidents.

The advice about horses has existed in subordinate legislative form for generations. It is unfortunate that the Highway Code does not highlight this - it is also unfortunate that many road users either do not know or have forgotten the Highway Code.

I do not ask sports car drivers to restrict themselves to racing circuits. I drive my horse on public roads, mainly quiet country roads but also regularly on busy main A roads in order to reach the quieter roads.As a result my cob is very accustomed to heavy traffic and poses no problem to safe drivers. Most motorists and almost all professional drivers are sensible - but some have little regard to safety and pass fast and too close and swerve back too early under the horse's nose.

Andrew Hosking    on 14 May 2019

Roads were not built exclusively for cars, I agree there is an appropriate time & place for horses on some roads, however - there is a far bigger problem with too many cars driving way too fast on “B roads” etc. They are just not suited to the maximum speed limit & a maximum speed of 40mph should be implemented, like in Ireland & France etc to suit these roads, before more pedestrians, cyclists & horse riders are killed or injured. The attitude of saying cars pay the road is totally ignorant..

Christina Apa    on 15 May 2019

Horses are flight animals , also known as prey animals. They have this reaction embodied in their DNA from their creation, which is far longer than mankind has been driving.! If they become fearful, they panic and run away. They do not possess reasoned, conscious thought. This is a physiological attribute of being a horse.Their world consists of comfort, or discomfort . If they feel discomfort they flee.
Slowing down for a few minutes while passing a horse and moving away slowly will help the animal to remain calm ,and ensure everyones road safety. It's not rocket science. The majority of drivers are educated enough to do this, but there is always an ignorant self centred minority, that spoil it for the rest of road users.

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