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Greater awareness of Highway Code is needed as road accidents involving horses and riders rise by a fifth

The British Horse Society has released its statistics for equine related road incidents reported in 2022. 

Sadly, it has recorded a 21% increase in the number of incidents reported against 2021. In 2022 it logged 139 rider injuries and 68 equine deaths. This equates to nearly 12 rider injuries and just over four horse deaths per month. 

Also of concern is that there has already been horse riders injured and two horse deaths in January in 2023 alone.

Increase in figures come despite Highway Code changes designed to better protect horse riders

This is despite the changes to the Highway Code which came into force in early 2022 that included changes designed to assist with horse rider safety on the roads. It includes specific advice for vehicles when passing horse riders such as allowing at least two metres of space and passing at speeds under 10 miles per hour.

The statistics show that more needs to be done to educate road users about the changes to the Highway Code and how to respond to horse riders using the road. 

An AA survey published in autumn last year suggests that 61% of UK motorists have not read or familiarised themselves with the changes to the Highway Code. It's concerning to see such statistics indicating that many road users haven't familiarised themselves with the new rules despite the fact that all road users have a responsibility to ensure that they are familiar with the Highway Code and to comply with this. 

Life-changing consequences of road accidents 

As a serious injury lawyer I've helped many horse riders who have sadly been involved in collisions on the roads. Many have sustained serious; life-changing injuries and I'm aware of the significant psychological impact and trauma suffered when the rider’s horse has had to be put down due to injuries caused in collisions.  

The effects of a collision can be lifelong. Collisions continue to occur even when horse riders take all possible steps to make themselves as safe as possible and as visible possible whilst using the roads.

British Horse Society's safety campaign

I fully support the British Horse Society’s campaign “The Highway Code -  a Year On” and its continued work to improve driver awareness of the Highway Code rules and to reduce horse rider related collisions on our roads. 

This campaign includes the key messages from the Dead Slow campaign which are:

If I see a horse on the road then I will …

  • Slow down to a maximum of 10mph
  • Be patient – I won’t sound my horn or rev my engine
  • Pass the horse wide and slow, leaving at least two metres distance
  • Drive slowly away

How to report incidents

I also encourage all horse riders, and the wider public, to continue to report incidents through the British Horse Society’s Horse app or at This because the more data the British Horse Society has about incidents, the more it can do to protect the rights of horse riders on Britain’s roads.

All road users need to be aware of how to approach and pass horses in accordance with the guidance in the Highway Code, to help keep themselves and horse riders safe.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in helping horse riders injured on the roads at our dedicated horse riding injuries claims section.