When driving past a horse and rider, always do so slowly and give a wide berth.
Accidents involving horses
The UK has around three million horse riders, many of whom ride on the road often to get to bridleways and other off-road facilities.
The British Horse Society estimates that there are around 3,000 accidents involving horses each year, half of which happen on minor roads.
Drivers: be respectful to horse and rider
Drivers need to behave courteously towards riders and horses at all times. A large number of riders are children who are less experienced as both road users and horse riders. Horses themselves may also be inexperienced and nervous of traffic.
Although horses are powerful creatures, they can be easily frightened and are liable to panic – particularly when close to traffic. An accident between a car and horse can cause considerable damage to the vehicle and its occupants as well, as the horse and rider.
Hey did you know?
Statistics published by the British Horse Society (BHS) show that in the year ending 28 February 2019, 87 horses and four people were killed on UK roads.
In total, 845 incidents involving horses on the road were reported to the BHS over the 12-month period – a year-on-year rise of 109%.
Of those, 73% occurred due to vehicles passing by too closely.
Advice for drivers when encountering horses
- Slow down and be ready to stop if necessary.
- Look out for riders’ signals to slow down or stop.
- Watch out for sudden movements as horses can be easily frightened and unpredictable.
- Don’t sound your horn or rev your engine.
- Pass with a wide berth and slow when overtaking giving the horse plenty of room. Don’t accelerate too quickly once you have passed.
- On roundabouts, horse riders will keep to the left within the roundabout until reaching their exit, when they will signal left. They will generally indicate right only when approaching exits they don’t intend to use.
- Motorists should be aware that when turning right riders will not move to the centre of the road, but stay on the left until they reach the point where they intend to turn.
- Drivers should watch out for horses on the road especially when approaching bends and on narrow rural roads.
The BHS launched its ‘Dead Slow’ road safety campaign to help better educate drivers on how to pass horses on the road. The key behavioural change messages to drivers are:
If I see a horse on the road then I will …
1. Slow down to a maximum of 15mph
2. Be patient – do not sound their horn or rev the engine
3. Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width if possible
4. Drive slowly away