The British Horse Society (BHS) welcomes the new proposed Highway Code changes, following reports of four horses killed on Britain’s roads already this year.

 

This follows 46 equine deaths reported to the charity in the previous year, with an additional 118 being injured and 130 human injuries.

The equine charity is delighted to see the positive changes being implemented, many of which were a direct result of the BHS’s significant involvement in the Highway Code review’s stakeholder group for vulnerable road users.

The changes, due to come into effect on 29 January will help to keep horses, riders, handlers and carriage drivers safer on UK roads.

The BHS has worked hard over the last three years, lobbying and collaborating with Cycling UK, DVSA, Living Streets and the Department for Transport (DfT) to suggest the much-needed Highway Code improvements and to represent equestrians in the review.

One of the main changes is a new Hierarchy of Road Users, where horses are now alongside pedestrians and cyclists, as vulnerable road users. This new rule highlights that, irrespective of method of transport, those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.

The advisory speed at which to pass people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles has been reduced from 15mph to 10mph, and drivers must allow at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space.

The BHS’s Dead Slow messaging will now be incorporated within the Highway Code, including how to pass feral/semi feral horses on Exmoor/Dartmoor and New Forest, as well as a recommendation for horse riders to complete the BHS Ride Safe Award as a reference of best practise.

Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society (BHS) said: “We are thrilled that our hard work has paid off and these crucial changes to the Highway Code will be brought in. I am very pleased that the BHS was able to represent the equestrian community within the DfT’s Highway Code stakeholder group to ensure that all equestrians were included in the changes. They are a significant step forward for equestrian road safety and will help protect vulnerable road users, making the roads safer for everyone.”

While these changes are a step in the right direction to protect horses and riders, there is still much more to be done to prevent the hundreds of horse and rider injuries, and even horse fatalities, reported to the BHS each year. The BHS is committed to educating drivers and creating awareness about how to safely pass horses on the roads, through their Dead Slow campaign.

Dead Slow was launched to help better educate drivers on how to safely pass horses on the road. The campaign consists of four key behavioural change messages to drivers:

If I see a horse on the road then I will …

  1. Slow down to a maximum of 10mph
  2. Be patient – I will not sound my horn or rev my engine
  3. Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width if possible
  4. Drive slowly away

The charity is urging equestrians to report any incidents they experience on the roads using the BHS's "Horse i" app, which gathers data to help strengthen the BHS’s voice when implementing positive changes such as this one.

For more information about the upcoming changes ahead of 29th January, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-highway-code-8-changes-you-need-to-know-from-29-january-2022

To find out more about the Dead Slow campaign and Horse i app, please visit: www.bhs.org.uk/dead-slow