I was interviewed by Horse and Hound magazine, who are doing a follow up piece and following what we are doing in Devon with great interest Cllr Rob Hannaford, Exwick & St Thomas
13 Jan 2021
Labour’s Cllr Rob Hannaford brought a motion to Cabinet on The British Horse Society’s Dead Slow Campaign :
Cabinet RESOLVED that Council be recommended to;
(a) work with local communities, through partnerships with other agencies, and on-line to support the BHS in urging drivers to be very careful when passing horses on the road, and for them to adhere to its Dead Slow campaign messages;
(b) join with the BHS to encourage all riders and horse owners to report their incidents to the charity at horseincidents.org.uk;
(c) undertake a study of the detailed data from the BHS of the reported equestrian incidents within the county; and
(d) use the results of the study to identify any problem areas and patterns for signing intervention to improve driver awareness and to target education.
Cllr Hannaford’s original motion
Council notes with concern that:
Numbers of road collisions involving horses in the South West are higher than anywhere else in the country, according to the latest figures.
New statistics released by the British Horse Society (BHS) show that 203 incidents were reported to the charity during 2019-20, down slightly from 239 in 2018-19.
Devon reported over half of the overall total with 104 incidents, one human fatality and 33 horse fatalities, also making it the county with the highest equine fatality rate in the UK.
The BHS has collated incident statistics to tie in with Road Safety Week (November 16-22) run by Brake, the road safety charity, to understand the rate of incidents involving horses on UK roads.
Of the 1,037 incidents reported nationally, 80 horses have died and 136 have been injured.
Furthermore, the BHS reveals that 81% of them occurred due to vehicles passing by too closely and close to half (43%) of riders were subject to road rage or abuse. It adds that 40% of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly.
Overall since November 2010, 4,774 road incidents have been reported to the BHS, 44 people have lost their lives and 1,220 have been injured, and 395 horses have been killed, with another 1,080 injured.
The Dead Slow campaign that can be visited at the website bhs.org.uk/dead slow, consists of four key behavioral change messages to drivers in relation to horses and riders:
♦ Slow down to a maximum of 15mph;
♦ Be patient – I won’t 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.
With the documented increase in speeding incidents we support the charity in urging drivers to be very careful when passing horses on the road , and for them to adhere to its Dead Slow campaign messages.
We join with the BHS to encourage all riders and horse owners to report their incidents to the charity at horseincidents.org.uk.
Furthermore as Devons highways authority we will aim to work with horse owners & riders, local communities, District, Town and Parish Councils, charities and others to wherever possible promote this campaign, in tandem with other measures such as better signage, to achieve behavioral change and secure better equine safety for all.
Briefing Note / Position Statement from the Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment.
The Department for Transport collision records (STATS19) for Devon are recorded by Devon & Cornwall Police. STATS19 data identifies any personal injury collision recorded on the highway. STATS19 includes collisions involving ridden horses\ horse drawn carriages and any collisions where an animal (except ridden horse) was recorded as a carriageway hazard in a collision. For the Devon County Council (DCC) local highway authority area, Table 1 summarises all STATS19 collisions recorded over the last full five years.
Over the period 28/02/2019 to 29/02/2020, there were 203 incidents reported to the British Horse Society (BHS). Data provided by the BHS identifies 54 reported horse incidents on roads across the three Devon local highway authority areas. The total of 104 incidents in Devon, includes loose ponies recorded as injured or killed on Dartmoor by the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society. Of the 54 incidents reported by riders in Devon, 3 reports identified mild injury to horses and 7 identified mild or moderate injury to the rider. The reported rider fatality occurred in December 2018. This fatality in 2018 is also identified in Table 1. This accident did involve a vehicle and a horse being led by the rider. But investigation by the Police did not identify that the vehicle had been driven without the appropriate level of care.
It is clear that collision data recorded by Police forces does not represent the full picture of incidents involving horses that occur on the roads. An independent study published in 2020 looked in detail at the issues of equestrian safety on UK roads. This study used data from both STATS19 and the BHS and it also included survey information collected from over 1900 horse riders from across the country. This study and analysis of the national STATS19 data for the five-year period 2013 to 2017, identified that the DCC area had the seventh highest horse collision rate per 100,000 population. The study then focused in more detail on the collision evidence available within the DCC local highway authority area. The findings of the study highlighted that the majority of collisions involved vehicles passing in the opposite direction and overtaking, with rear-end shunts being the next most prevalent collision type. A large proportion of vehicles involved in collisions with horses were reported not to have impacted the horse, but avoiding impact with a horse was not sufficient to avoid injuries. The survey found that nearly 16% of the riders surveyed had reported a collision, with nearly 8% reporting collisions involving personal injury. Additionally, nearly 80% of riders had reported a near-miss incident. The study concluded that drivers need to understand horse perception limitations, flight behaviours, and horse rider signals. The report recommended that collision frequency and severity could be reduced with education-based initiatives and equally, equestrian riders need to be skilled in communicating correctly with their horses and in approaching drivers.
The BHS as a charity offer a range of resources, education and training opportunities and is proactive in promoting road safety for riders and improving driver awareness. This is something that DCC can support through the road safety team.
Officers’ briefings https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=34169