Campaign to cut horse rider dangers on UK roads

There was a 16 per cent increase in road incidents reported to the BHS last year (image:Thinkstock)

There was a 16 per cent increase in road incidents reported to the BHS last year (image:Thinkstock) - Credit: thinkstock

A new phase of the British Horse Society Dead Slow campaign aims to cut the ‘alarming’ number of horse-related accidents on our roads, claiming ‘most drivers aren’t aware of the very real dangers riders face’

If you are a driver the chances are you are used to cyclists on our roads. But unless you live near a livery yard, you are less likely to come across a horse and rider.

Unfortunately, most drivers aren’t aware of the very real danger that riders face when they head out on the UK’s roads. Last year, there was a 16 per cent increase in the number of road incidents reported to The British Horse Society (BHS), a total of 315, 11 of which were in Hertfordshire.

The society launched a Dead Slow campaign in 2016 in response to the alarming number of incidents involving horses and vehicles on our roads, aimed at educating drivers how to safely pass a horse.

The campaign continues and the society has received reports from riders of drivers being more courteous when passing them on the road. Now The BHS has launched the second phase of the campaign, Dead or Dead Safe, to educate riders on how to stay safe on the road.

Advice for drivers

Are you a driver who’s unsure on how to pass horses on the road? Horses are flighty animals, and even the best behaved can sometimes be unpredictable. When you see a horse on the road, slow right down to a maximum of 15mph. It’s important that you do not rev your engine or sound your horn as this can scare a horse. Sometimes, when riders or horses are inexperienced, they will ride two-abreast, it’s important that you wait until it’s completely safe before you overtake. Once you have safely passed the horse, drive away smoothly and do not accelerate heavily.

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Advice for riders

The message from the British Horse Society is always ‘be safe, be seen’. Some people may joke that you can’t miss a horse in the middle of the road. But the truth is, drivers sometimes don’t see horses until it’s too late, especially if the horse is dark and the rider is wearing dull colours. The society recommends both riders and horses wear conspicuous high-visibility clothing as it can give drivers more time to react.

When possible it’s important to thank drivers who are courteous. If a driver is acknowledged in a friendly manner for passing by safely they are more likely to repeat their behaviour the next time they see a horse and rider.

If you are unlucky enough to be involved in an incident, no matter how small, then please report it to the BHS via the website The society can use the report to help other riders stay safe.

There is room for everyone on the roads if we all show respect for one and another.

To find out more about Dead Slow, visit