Plea to drivers to go 'wide and slow' past horses and riders on West roads
After a number of near misses with traffic on the road, a Devon horse rider is calling for drivers to be reminded to pass wide and slow.
Emily Fisher regularly rides her horse on country lanes particularly in the Broadclyst area of Exeter – on the road towards Town and Country Supplies – and has encountered numerous incidences with cars, plant hire vehicles and HGVs.
"I've found that a significant number of drivers who pass horses on the road just don't seem to take any care when overtaking, particularly in narrow places. I can't stress enough that a reminder of the highway code should be put out to the public to recognise various signals when asked of them by horse riders – for example to stop and slow down."
Emily added: "Many a time my horse has been spooked by speeding cars that simply fail to slow down. They are clearly not aware that horses are flight animals – they either fight or run."
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According to Emily, Devon County Council has put horse warning road signs in place, however this appears to have had no effect.
"The traffic seems to have a total disregard for these signs, in fact they have increased their speed significantly along these lanes and take no care when approaching and passing horses," said Emily. "I feel I would be safer riding on a main road!"
Emily highlighted the fact that this was not just a problem for horse riders as there are many cyclists, walkers and young children who also use these roads.
"I feel it's getting worse. I understand that the road speed limit is at national speed limit but drivers must be aware that they need to slow down especially in the narrow places. Blasting past puts both horse, rider and driver at risk – horses don't dent, they die and the impact would cause some serious damage to the vehicle too."
Emily feels that the situation is made worse due to the state of the roads which currently have deep ruts in places. "Drivers are driving more central – but just aren't being considerate to the horse."
When riding out Emily always wears her reflective gear which includes a tabard / waistcoat with the words 'Please Pass wide and slow', as well as a hat band. Her horse also wears reflective gear.
"Hopefully by reminding drivers of the highway code signals they will know what to do when asked to slow down."
The British Horse Society (BHS), which launched its accident reporting website, www.horseaccidents. org.uk in November 2010, says there have been 17 incidents reported in Devon. This included one horse fatality. In 76% of these cases drivers passing too close was cited as a contributory factor.
The BHS has just joined forces with road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist to take a new approach to horse and rider safety on the roads. Together they have created a 'Horse Rider Safety' leaflet to promote road safety for both horse riders and drivers alike.
Sheila Hardy, senior executive safety at the BHS, said: "It is very easy to blame other road users for accidents or misunderstandings on the road. If we have a greater understanding of the needs and concerns of others it can only serve to make everyone safer on the roads."