‘Highway Code: a year on’ – The British Horse Society’s 2023 campaign launch

This January marks one year since the Department for Transport launched key changes to the Highway Code. Many of which were a direct result of The British Horse Society’s significant involvement in the Highway Code Review’s stakeholder group for vulnerable road users.

For equestrians, there were three significant changes:

  • The introduction of a Hierarchy of Road Users. This states that those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others. Important details include the fact that equestrians are viewed alongside cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists in this new hierarchy.
  • Guidance on the safe passing distances when overtaking or approaching horses. The guide is; pass horses and horse drawn vehicles at speeds under 10mph and allow at least two metres space.
  • Inappropriate speeds are intimidating, deterring people from walking, cycling or riding horses.

Despite this new guidance in place, the number of road incidents involving horses continues to rise across the UK with reports of two horses killed on Britain’s roads already in 2023. This follows the 68 equine deaths logged via the BHS’s ‘Horse i’ app in 2022, with an additional 125 being injured and 139 human injuries.

A year on from when the new Highway Code changes were implemented, The British Horse Society (BHS) have launched a new campaign to raise concern around these growing figures. We are calling for urgent action, expressing fears that a great deal of drivers aren’t aware of the guidelines in place.

Through this campaign and its key messages, we strive to:

  • Drive greater awareness of the Highway Code changes
  • Raise awareness of why it’s so important to pass horses safely
  • Reduce the number of incidents involving horses on UK Roads

The call to action:

At the BHS, it continues to inform drivers and create awareness about how to safely pass horses on the roads through its Dead slow campaign. The key messages of ‘Dead Slow’ reinforce the Highway Code changes, recommending four steps for drivers when passing horses on the road:

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

  1. Slow down to a maximum of 10mph
  2. Be patient – I won’t sound my horn or rev my engine
  3. Pass the horse wide and slow, leaving at least 2m distance
  4. Drive slowly away

The BHS is also encouraging all riders, and the wider public, to continue to report incidents through the Horse i app or at horseincidents.org.uk. The more incidents that are reported, the more the BHS can do to protect the rights of horse riders on Britain’s roads.

The general public can also donate to the BHS to help support future equine safety projects. To learn more visit www.bhs.org.uk

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