Horse rider safety campaign launched on Oxfordshire’s roads

Drivers are being encouraged to stay alert for horse riders using the county’s roads, in a joint safety campaign from Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, and the British Horse Society (BHS).  

‘Pass slow and wide’ warning signs (see image and watch ITV Meridian’s news bulletin) will be positioned at hotspots used regularly by equestrians, where there is a record of reported incidents involving horse riders and road traffic. The signs will be erected on either a temporary basis for major equestrian events, or on a more permanent basis. They are already in place at:

  • Wootton village (at the junction with Old Boars Hill Road, near Middle Farm Livery)
  • Sibford Ferris (Main Street), near Banbury
  • and on Lovegrove’s Lane, near Checkendon Equestrian Centre (six miles west of Henley)

Andy Ford, Road Safety Education Team Manager, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This safety initiative is about protecting everyone on our roads; drivers and horse riders. I encourage anyone who owns a vehicle to think about the devastating consequences if they ploughed into a horse, or if by passing at speed they frightened the animal; the rider injured or killed as a result. These signs will help you think.”

Statistics released by the British Horse Society (BHS), in March, revealed road incidents involving horses and vehicles remain a problem in the South of England, with 117 incidents reported to the equine charity during 2020-2021. Overall, incidents in the South of England decreased by just 9 per cent compared to the previous year, despite lockdown reducing road traffic levels.

The BHS has collated statistics to understand the rate of incidents involving horses on UK roads. Of the 1,010 reported, 80 per cent occurred due to vehicles passing by too closely. The charity has launched a new free safety app, Horse i, which allows riders to report incidents.

The National BHS campaign Dead Slow was launched earlier this year to help better educate drivers on how to safely pass horses. The campaign consists of four key behavioural change messages for drivers if they see a horse:

  • Slow down to a maximum of 15mph
  • Be patient – ‘I will not 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

Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at the British Horse Society, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service to take steps to improve road safety for horses and riders across the county. We hope these signs will make a difference for equestrians in the area.”

Andy Ford, Road Safety Education Team Manager, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our road safety campaigns already remind drivers that numerous dangers and obstacles could be lurking around the next bend, from a horse and rider, to a cyclist, tractor, or a broken-down vehicle. Anyone behind the wheel should be asking themselves, am I driving appropriately for the road conditions, the weather, and my visibility based on how far I can see ahead?”

Horse owners can also play their part by ensuring they are wearing appropriate safety clothing and high-visibility equipment to help draw attention to their presence.

The new BHS safety app Horse i is available to download for free from the Apple store and Google Play. Equestrians who do not use smart phones can record incidents via the online form on the BHS website.

Residents can request ‘pass slow and wide’ warning signs through their local parish council or by emailing tim.shickle@oxfordshire.gov.uk at Oxfordshire County Council.

National statistics 2020-2021

  • 1,010 road incidents involving horses have been reported to the British Horse Society
  • Of these, 46 horses have died and 118 have been injured
  • 130 people have been injured because of road incidents
  • 80 per cent of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too closely to the horse
  • 41 per cent of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly
  • 43 per cent of riders were victims to road rage or abuse


The British Horse Society

As the largest equine charity in the UK, the British Horse Society is dedicated to education, equine welfare, protecting and increasing access to bridleways and places to ride and carriage-drive off-road, and safety for horse and riders. The Society’s thriving and active community of staff and volunteers is committed to improving the lives of horses everywhere.

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