Enhancing Equine Road Safety
In March 2016, the British Horse Society (BHS) launched its 'Dead? Or Dead Slow?' campaign in an attempt to educate drivers on how to safely pass horses on the road. The organisation have also released a that has been produced in conjunction with the Department of Transport. Recently Alan Hiscox, the BHS safety director, appeared on BBC breakfast to further highlight the issues around equine road safety.
The campaign urges drivers on the road to slow down to a maximum speed of 15mph when they see a horse and to leave at least one car width between their vehicle and the horse when they pass. It also tells drivers not to rev their engines or to sound their horn.
The BHS Accident Website
The BHS launched their horse accidents website in November 2010 and since then there have been a disturbing 2510 accidents reported involving horses. 222 horses have died as a result and the majority of the incidents involved drivers who failed to leave enough room between their car and the horse. The British Horse Society's statistics show that accidents are on the rise. However, they feel that it would be fairer to say that more people are reporting accidents the public become more aware of
Collision in Essex
BBC Breakfast highlighted the dangers on the road for horse and rider when they featured a story about a fatal collision. Driver Bryony Donovan from Heybridge, Essex, recently appeared at Colchester Magistrates Court in connection with an incident which took place in November last year.
Ms Donovan had crashed into a horse whilst driving her fiat 500. She had failed to see two horses and riders, despite the fact that they were wearing high visibility jackets. Her car ploughed into the back of one of the horses that was being ridden by 30-year-old Laura Thorogood. The collision threw Laura off onto a grass verge and caused her horse, Angel, to sustain fatal injuries that lead to her put down at the scene. A second horse and rider suffered minor injuries.
Guilty as Charged
Bryony Donovan was found guilty of driving without due care and attention. She received a fine of £265 and also 5 points on her licence. She was ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge. The victim, Laura Thorogood, was less than impressed with the outcome of the case. She believes that Bryony should have had her driving licence taken away.
In the wake of the incident, the local community launched their own campaign to increase awareness of how to drive around horses. They are now attempting to get the speed limit on the road where the accident occurred lowered. Their efforts have received the backing of MPs and the Princess Royal.
It certainly doesn’t help the British Horse Society's cause if drivers who are guilty of such terribly negligent behaviour do not receive a harsh punishment. Many riders involved in accidents now becoming the victims of abuse and road rage. It is clear that it is going to take a huge effort to change hearts and minds.