Drivers asked to rein in and go ‘dead slow’ for horses

Somerset County Council’s Road Safety Team has teamed up with The British Horse Society (BHS) to highlight potential safety issues faced by equestrians on Somerset roads.

With an increasing number of reported incidents involving horses and vehicles, the campaign is designed to better educate road users on how to pass horses safely and encouraging them to adhere to the BHS’s Dead Slow behavioural change messages.

Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital Cllr Mike Rigby said: “Our highways should be safe for all road users, and this is a fantastic initiative to demonstrate how to share the roads safely with horse riders.

“Around 85% of incidents involving horses on UK roads are caused when a vehicle passed too closely by the horse, therefore it is critical we leave at least two metres.

Dead Slow signs have gone up at key locations around the county to promote these vital messages. There are four simple steps for drivers to follow if you see a horse on the road:

1. Slow down to a maximum of 10mph

2. Be patient, I will not sound my horn or rev my engine

3. Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least two metres if possible

4. Drive slowly away.

The BHS also offers guidance that horse riders can adopt to keep themselves and their horses safe when out on the roads:

  • Always wear hi-vis clothing and put hi-vis equipment on your horse – even on bright days, it is surprising how well a horse can be camouflaged against a hedge. 
  • Wear protective headgear to current approved standards
  • Unless necessary, we highly recommend you avoid riding in failing light, fog or darkness or when it is snowing or icy
  • Show courtesy to drivers – a smile and a nod are enough if your hands are full
  • Take The British Horse Society Ride Safe Award

The BHS encourages all riders to report their incidents to the charity, at or through its app Horse i. The more incidents that are reported, the more the BHS can do to protect the rights of horse riders on Britain’s roads.