According to The British Horse Society (BHS), between the dates of November 2010 to March 2019, 315 horses and 43 humans have encountered fatal accidents when out riding - an average of 42 lives lost each year! These figures represent hundreds of lives struck by tragedy, and this is why their 'Dead? Or Dead Slow?' road safety campaign was created.
Here at R&R Country, we're committed to spreading the word and boosting awareness around the importance of road safety - that's why we're highlighting Road Safety Week 2019 across all of our social and web channels. Read on for our top tips to keep the statistics from rising...
Although the British weather can be notoriously changeable, it is important to try and avoid riding in bad weather. Just like driving a car, riding a horse can become very tricky in certain conditions. If visibility is low, you take the risk of yourself and your horse not being seen. Bad weather can also cause your horse to become frantic and stressed – putting both you and other road users in danger.
The British Horse Society has advised that when the clocks go back and the nights draw in, you should avoid riding out: it is often hard to gauge how fast the sun is setting, and the dark can fall more rapidly than expected.
It's always best to play it safe - which is where hi-viz can be worth its weight in gold (or neon...)
Be safe, be seen
With the nights dawning earlier each day and the weather becoming more temperamental, it is important to fully prepare before trekking out on horseback. Being visible when out on the roads is crucial. It is recommended that you should wear high visibility reflective clothing when out riding, even in bright and clear conditions - you never know what the weather may do! The more visible you and your horse are, the greater the chance that drivers will spot you with plenty of time to adhere to the road safety campaign.
If you're looking for some high visibility clothing and accessories to provide peace of mind, we have collections to care for all built into our website:
It is important to carry a mobile phone when riding out, in case of emergency - but advice from many organisations, including the Road Safety Authority, stresses the importance of keeping your phone on silent to minimise distraction and maintain control over your horse.
Even if you are contactable through your mobile phone, it is also advisable to let someone know where you are going, how long you intend to be, and the estimated time you intend to be back (BHS).
Highway Code for Horse Riders
Just like vehicles, horses must adhere to The Highway Code, too. This means wearing appropriate clothing and safety wear, following signs and signalling movements to other road users. Click here to brush up on your Highway Code with The British Horse Society - it's a quick read, and who knows when it may come in handy. We also have a useful Highway Code for Horses blog post which includes the gov.uk laws if you'd like to know more.
It is vital that riders follow The Highway Code and are courteous to others - a simple wave to thank a vehicle for slowing down will be greatly received. The more courteous riders are, the more likely vehicles will also adhere to the BHS rules of passing a horse.
The below video gives a great virtual reality perspective on the consequences of drivers failing to follow these guidelines - a great resource to share and raise awareness:
To summarise: the importance of road safety, in extreme cases, could mean the difference between life and death. To ensure maximum safety for you, your horse, and other road users please ensure you follow the advisory guidelines and best practice above. Following these will make the road a safer and kinder place for all users.