Rise in horse road incidents and deaths sparks awareness campaign

The British Horse Society is urging drivers to humanise horse riders after it released new statistics revealing that a total of 201 incidents and one horse fatality in the West Midlands were reported to the charity last year.

Scene from the 'Look Out For Laura' campaign video. Image: The British Horse Society.
Scene from the 'Look Out For Laura' campaign video. Image: The British Horse Society.

Overall, incidents in the West Midlands have increased by 180 per cent compared to the previous year.

Staffordshire and Warwickshire were the worst affected areas with 62 incidents, followed by Shropshire with 31 incidents, and Worcestershire with 21 incidents and one horse fatality.

Road incidents involving horses and vehicles continue to rise across the UK, with a total 2,943 incidents reported to the equine charity in 2021.

Of the 2,943 total reported, 85 per cent of them occurred due to vehicles passing by too closely.

As part of its ‘Look Out for Laura’ campaign, the BHS has released two new videos to educate and encourage riders to safely pass horses on the road.

The videos tell the story of two horse riders who rely on riding as a way to de-stress from their hectic, working lives.

Both encourage drivers to really think about how they look at, and empathise with, horse riders when they are out on the road.

This campaign has been informed by considerable research carried out by Nottingham Trent University, in collaboration with the BHS and Cycling UK, with funding from The Road Safety Trust.

It reveals that drivers who have greater awareness of a rider’s personal story have significantly improved how they would pass riders on the road, giving a greater passing distance and slowing down their speed.

A change in attitude is more important than ever, with over 500 horses reported to be killed on the roads since 2010.

The charity is urging more drivers to think about how they look at horse riders when they are out on the road and encourage them to adhere to its Dead Slow campaign messages, which include slowing down and being patient when seeing horses on the road.

Alan Hiscox, director of safety at The British Horse Society said: “The number of incidents involving horses on Britain’s roads remain far too high. It is, therefore, vital that we continue to urge drivers to be more considerate when passing horses and aware of how to do this safely.

"Riding helps people from all backgrounds and walks of life, particularly when it comes to relieving stressful and difficult situations. We need to push awareness of this, and believe the ‘Look Out for Laura’ campaign offers a powerful message that will encourage drivers to think about the riders around them and help to reduce the significant number of horses being killed on Britain’s roads.”

The BHS encourages all riders to report their incidents to the charity, at horseincidents.org.uk or through its app Horse i.

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