Road-users are being encouraged to be more aware on Bedfordshire’s highways - whether they are travelling by car or horse.
Beds Police is working with The British Horse Society (BHS) and Bedfordshire Horsewatch, following a marked increase in reports of incidents in Bedfordshire involving horses; from one reported in 2017/2018 to seven reported in 2018/2019.
The majority of road incidents that have been reported to the BHS occurred because a vehicle passed too closely to a horse. As a result, the Dead Slow campaign was launched to educate drivers on how to safely pass horses on roads. There are also a number of things horse riders can do to keep themselves safe.
PC Grant Hayes, from the rural community policing team, said: “This autumn, we want to encourage both motorists and horse riders to be more aware of each other on our county’s roads.
“There has been a significant increase in incidents involving horses reported over the last two years and we want to reduce this as much as we can by educating drivers on how to pass a horse safely and also reiterating to riders tips they can take to keep themselves safe.
“Although there has been an increase in reports, statistics from the BHS show that only one in 10 incidents are reported to them and therefore there are likely to be more that they aren’t aware of. We want to take this opportunity to encourage people to report either to the BHS directly or to contact our Op Sentinal rural policing team.”
Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at the BHS said: “Last year alone, national statistics show that 87 horses and four people were killed on UK roads and 73 percent of the 845 incidents reported to the BHS occurred due to vehicles passing by too closely.
“By collaborating with Bedfordshire Police, we are hoping more drivers will be aware that when they are faced with a horse on the road they should slow down to a maximum of 15mph, be patient and ensure they pass the horse wide and slow, before driving slowly away.
“We also want to encourage riders to play their part by wearing high visibility clothing at all times and by thanking all road users that pass by safely.”
The BHS is asking drivers to use this prompt to ensure a safe pass:
· Slow down to a maximum speed of 15mph.
· Be patient, don’t sound your horn or rev your engine.
· Pass the horse wide and slow and if safe to do so, allow at least a car’s width if possible.
· Drive away slowly.
The BHS is asking riders to:
· Always wear hi-viz clothing and put hi-viz equipment on your horse – even on bright days, it is surprising how well a horse can be camouflaged against a hedge.
· Unless absolutely necessary, avoid riding in failing light, fog or darkness or when it is snowing or icy.
· Show courtesy to drivers – if you show drivers appreciation of their efforts, then drivers should return the favour.
· If you are riding a horse that is not used to roads, make sure you are accompanied by an experienced rider and horse.
· Be aware of your surroundings, and adhere to the Highway Code.
To report an incident, you can visit the BHS reporting tool or email our Rural Policing team on firstname.lastname@example.org