Natasha Baker calls for greater awareness of Highway Code Changes

hacking out road safety

The British Horse Society, with support from GB Paralympian and BHS Ambassador Natasha Baker OBE, is calling for more awareness of the guidelines set for passing equestrians on UK roads as we mark one year since the Department for Transport announced the key changes to the Highway Code.

This comes as the number of road incidents involving horses continues to rise across the UK, with reports of two horses killed on Britain’s roads already this year. 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. 

Despite the changes to the Highway Code, the equine charity received a total of 3,552 road incident accounts over the past year. This is a notable 21% increase on the number reported in 2021. 

Despite the changes to the Highway Code, the equine charity received a total of 3,552 road incident accounts over the past year. This is a notable 21% increase on the number reported in 2021. 

The new guidelines, 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, include setting the advisory speed for passing people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at 10mph, and advising drivers to allow at least two metres of space. 

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Another key change was the new Hierarchy of Road Users, with horse riders now, alongside pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, recognised as road users most likely to be injured in the event of a collision. 

While the new Highway Code guidance is an essential step in the right direction to protect horses and riders, the BHS is disappointed to see that not enough is being done to reinforce the behavioural messages and to make the public aware of the urgent importance of driving carefully around horses. 

Natasha Baker, GB Paralympian and BHS Ambassador says:

I am very passionate about safety. Hacking is a big part of my training, helping to build my horse’s fitness levels, but heading out on the roads can feel like you’re taking your life into your own hands. 

I’m so sad to see that this continues to remain the case, and it looks to be even worse a year after the changes to the Highway Code were introduced! Riding helps people from all backgrounds and walks of life, particularly when it comes to relieving stressful situations, and more needs to be done to make sure that every rider feels safe.” 

The BHS is committed to informing drivers and creating awareness about how to safely pass horses on the roads through their Dead Slow campaign. The equine charity is calling for more succinct information and awareness of the changes in the Highway Code.  

Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at the BHS says:

Horses are still being killed and injured on our roads, riders continue to be seriously injured and too many drivers underestimate the importance of driving carefully around horses. This is detrimental to the safety of equestrians. You only have to look at the two horses who were tragically killed in the space of just two weeks at the beginning of 2023! 

Our fear is that guidelines aren’t being clearly explained and delivered; this needs to change. Urgent action is required to make every road user aware of the Highway Code changes and, critically, why it’s so important to pass horses with care. Only through working collaboratively to educate and drive awareness will we be able to stop these awful incidents from happening over and over again.”

The equine charity urges equestrians to log any equine-related safety incidents using the Horse i app. The more incidents that are reported, the more the BHS can do to protect the rights of horse riders on Britain’s roads.

The BHS Ride Safe Award provides riders with the skills and knowledge to ride safely in all environments, including on the road. If you’re interested in discovering how the Ride Safe award could help you and to learn more about the BHS’s Dead Slow campaign, visit: the BHS website.

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