How to pass horses safely on the road

How to pass horses safely on the road

Most drivers are aware of the need to pass a horse ‘wide and slow’, but for some motorists the message doesn’t seem to be getting through.

Figures from The British Horse Society show that two horses are killed EVERY WEEK on UK roads, with 87 horses and four people killed in the last year alone. Shockingly, 315 horses and 43 humans have died on the road since 2010.

The worrying statistics have prompted IAM RoadSmart to issue advice on how to pass a horse safely on the road, with the road safety charity warning that it’s not always a car that will spook a horse. Drivers should expect the unexpected and give the horse and rider plenty of room.

Seventy-three percent of incidents involving a horse occurred because a car passed too closely, so leaving a wide gap is essential. According to The British Horse Society, these are the four simple steps to take when passing a horse on the road:

  • Slow down to a maximum of 15mph
  • Be patient – DO NOT sound your horn or rev your engine
  • Pass the horse wide and slow, allowing at least a car’s width if possible
  • Drive slowly away

‘Be sure to stay alert’

Pass a horse wide and slow

Jaimi McIlravey, a horse rider and digital content executive at IAM RoadSmart, said: “Please continue to be careful when driving close to horses. From personal experience, it’s not always a car the will spook a horse.

“You may be driving safely with enough gap between yourself and a horse and rider. However, something else may scare them, so be sure to stay alert.”

How to pass a horse safely from behind

  • Slow down and hold back. The rider will indicate whether it’s safe to approach and overtake. If they don’t, stay at least three cars lengths behind and be careful to not move into this space. Be prepared to slow down further or stop – any sudden movements or loud noises could spoke the horse.
  • Take extra care on rural roads – a horse could be around the next corner.
  • Allow at least a car’s width when passing a horse and stick to 15mph maximum.
  • On a narrow lane, where there’s not enough room to pass a horse, the rider may decide to trot to the nearest gateway or grass verge. Do not accelerate to match the trot – stay back.
  • If you see two riders side by side, it might be for safety reasons, Give them some consideration.
  • Keep an eye out for signals from the rider.
  • Accelerate gently when passing the horse and when moving away.

If you are approaching a horse from the other side of the road, slow down and consider the use of hazard warning lights to alert drivers behind you.

For more advice, visit The British Horse Society website.

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