Drivers asked to pass riders with care on country roads

  • Video report by ITV Meridian's Juliette Fletcher

New signs are being put up across the Thames Valley to try to improve the safety of horses and their riders on the roads.

It is part of a joint safety campaign from Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service and the British Horse Society (BHS).

New sign at Wootton in Oxfordshire

The 'Pass slow and wide' warning signs will be positioned at hotspots where there is a record of reported incidents involving horse riders and road traffic.

Statistics released by the British Horse Society (BHS), in March, revealed road incidents involving horses and vehicles remain a problem in the South of England, with 117 incidents reported to the equine charity during 2020-2021.

Horses being spooked by a car

Overall, incidents in the South of England decreased by just 9 per cent compared to the previous year, despite lockdown reducing road traffic levels.

Near misses are not uncommon. Rider Pippa Ogier tells how she has experienced careless driving when out with her horse Ruby.

The British Horse Society launched a campaign called "Dead Slow" earlier this year. The key messages for drivers are:

Slow down to a maximum of 15mph

Be patient - 'I will not sound my horn or rev my engine'

Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car's width if possible

Drive slowly away

There is also a new BHS safety app, called Horse i, which enables riders to report incidents on their smartphones.

New app for reporting incidents

Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety for the British Horse Society, said drivers may not want to cause harm to the rider but passing too fast and close is intimidating to both horse and rider.

National statistics 2020-2021

1,010 road incidents involving horses have been reported to the British Horse Society

Of these, 46 horses have died and 118 have been injured

130 people have been injured because of road incidents

80 per cent of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too closely to the horse

41 per cent of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly

43 per cent of riders were victims to road rage or abuse