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New figures have revealed that the rate of horses being killed on British roads has increased.
According to the British Horse Society, 66 horses were killed – and 96 injured – in road accidents last year, making it the highest rate of equine fatalities since 2018. Additionally, three riders were killed and 94 were injured.
This is despite changes to the Highway Code coming into force two years ago, which issued guidance about passing horses at a slower speed after 46 equine deaths were reported to the charity in 2021.
Of the nearly 3,400 incidents reported in 2023, 85% of these involved a vehicle either passing too closely or too quickly. Alan Hiscox, the British Horse Society’s Director of Safety explains:
“A horse’s instinctive response to danger is to react and move very quickly. Understandably, a driver passing at an inappropriate speed can be intimidating for the horse and be cause for alarm."
The Highway Code states that motorists should pass horses at no more than 10mph and leave at least two metres distance between their vehicle and a horse. Details can be found here.
The Alliance’s Director of the Campaign for Hunting, Polly Portwin, said:
“These figures are shocking and only go to show the continued importance of raising awareness and understanding about safety on country roads. Whilst some motorists complain that horse riders should just stay off the roads, there are claims that a shrinking bridleway network means that riders require access to main roads to get to their destinations.”
“Encouraging drivers in the countryside to remain vigilant is critical but, equally, riders do need to take action to help protect themselves and their horses. Wearing hi-vis clothing, using the appropriate hand signals to indicate their manoeuvres to other road users and considering the route to minimise riding along roads – particularly in fading light conditions – are all measures that can be taken to help reduce the risk to horses, equestrians and other road users.”