Police To Record Horse Accidents

Fifteen years of lobbying by the British Horse Society has finally paid off. The Standing Committee on Road Accident Statistics has been reviewing the Stats 19 coding form, which the police use to record road traffic accidents. After consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions has announced that in future horse related traffic accidents are to be recorded on the Stats 19 forms.

Up until now the ridden horse is the only legitimate road user that is not listed under a separate category. This has meant that the number of horse related accidents on the roads have been impossible to quantify with any accuracy. Without accurate statistics, it is difficult to persuade local authorities, government, and others of the need to secure provision for horse riders.

ACPO Chairman, Assistant Commissioner Paul Manning, said: “We are very conscious of the need to reduce the administrative burden of paperwork imposed on police statistics will help the valuable work the Society does to reduce the number of horses and riders killed and injured on the roads every year, and the police fully support their `Safety 2000' campaign.”

According to the British Horse Society's own statistics, taken from accidents reported directly to them, there are at least 3,000 accidents a year involving horses on the roads. One survey in 1990 found that there were nearly 30 such accidents a day. Many of these accidents could be avoided with a little patience and understanding from motorists.

No horse rider will ride on the road out of choice. It is never a pleasant experience and some drivers show a lack of consideration that borders on the dangerous. This is largely the result of ignorance. Drivers do not understand that even the steadiest of horses can suddenly take fright and shy out into the road. To have a car go past at 40 mph with inches to spare can be a very unnerving experience for both horse and rider.

The British Horse Society works to open up more bridleways so that riders do not have to use the roads. Statistics that clearly demonstrate need will strengthen the case with local authorities when applications for rights of way are made.

This acknowledgment by the DETR that there is good reason to record the number of road accidents involving horses is a great step forward in the British Horse Society's `Safety 2000' campaign, which aims to reduce the number of accidents by educating both riders and drivers. Accurate data will enable to BHS to monitor the true extent of the problem.

The British Horse Society now awaits with interest the outcome of the consultations on the revised highway code due out later this year. The BHS has proposed several amendments.

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