A recent feature is drawing attention to the pressing safety issues of horses on roadways in Britain.
If you've ever ridden a horse on the side of a road, then you know how unsettling it can be to have a car pass too closely or too quickly. There are many safety issues of horses on roadways, both in the United States and in Britain. Last Monday, a feature on BBC One's Countryfile focused on the safety issues of horses on roadways.
The feature included interviews with riders who have experienced safety issues while on the roads. It also included input from the British Horse Society regarding how rampant the safety issue is and how it may be solved.
The figures provided by the British Horse Society are eye-opening. During the past five years, there have been 2,070 accidents and near misses involving horses. In that same time period, 36 riders and 181 riders have been killed in accidents on roadways. These figures only highlight the accidents and incidents reported to the British Horse Society; the actual statistics may be much higher.
In addition to the British Horse Society, the feature included additional spokespeople whose advice spurred some debate. One spokesperson advised that riders should always dismount if a horse is getting nervous, and that riders should not ride two abreast on the road. Some riders and the British Horse Society tend to disagree with this advice.
While there may not be one single solution to fixing these safety issues, driver education could be a large component. Some riding accidents can be prevented if drivers allow enough space to pass and slow their vehicles while passing. Some drivers claim that they don't know how to handle a horse and rider on the road when driving a vehicle.
So, what should you do in such a situation? If you see a horse and rider in the road in the United States, the horse and rider always have the right of way. Slow your car and come to a stop until the horseback rider directs you it is safe to move forward or to pass. Remember that horses can spook quickly, and may end up further in the road, so pass with lots of room and only pass slowly. Never honk your horn at a horse and rider; they know that you're there. If the horse seems to get agitated or out of control, stop your car immediately and wait for further directions from the rider.
Road safety can be a major hazard for horses and riders, especially when drivers aren't sure how to handle the situation.
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