Horses and Road Traffic Accident Claims – APIL Injury Prevention Week

We are proud to be supporting APIL’s Injury Prevention Week, which is aimed at improving the safety of vulnerable road users.

As a solicitor specialising in personal injury claims, I act for vulnerable road users who have sustained serious injuries as a result of road traffic collisions.

Injury prevention week is targeted at pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders and educating us on how we can all do our part to protect them whilst they are on our roads. This article will address how we can support horse riders and keep them safe. After all, as said by APIL’s chief executive, needless injury can shatter the lives of individuals.

Many people will have seen news articles or Facebook posts from horse riders who have been put in dangerous positions by cars, lorries or vans due to lack of experience or knowledge on how to deal with them. With the increasing number of vehicles on our roads and the speed at which they travel – roads are becoming increasingly challenging, especially for vulnerable road users such as horse riders.

An important thing to remember is that horse riders are as entitled to use roads as drivers or cyclists, and should not be considered an inconvenience. It is estimated there are over three million horse riders in the UK and 18 million of these ride regularly. From the 1st March 2018 to 18 February 2019 the British Horse Association saw 845 incidents reported to them. In addition to this, over a quarter of people who own horses have reported experiencing road rage or abuse.

In nine years, 315 horses have been killed and 43 people have lost their lives. This does not include those who have been seriously injured. It is important to consider these are only reported incidents. Many people will have experienced a near miss whilst out riding.

One person losing their life is one too many.

These injuries/ fatalities have been as a result of two things that could be easily prevented. 73% of incidents occurred because cars passed too closely and 31% were caused by a vehicle passing too quickly.

Many riders take steps to make themselves visible and to take care of themselves, vehicle users now need to look at what they can do.

Some simple steps to follow:

If you see a horse on the road; slow down to around 15mph, be patient, do not rev your engine or sound your horn, pass the horse wide and slowly and drive slowly away.

Horse riders are protected under the highway code. If you see a horse and rider you MUST

1. Be particularly careful when overtaking.
2. Always pass wide and slow
3. Look out for signals and acknowledge any request to slow down and stop
4. Treat horses as a potential hazard. They can be unpredictable, despite the efforts of their rider.

If you are following a horse and rider, they will be aware of your presence, they will nearly always find a safe place to stop to allow you to pass.

Importantly, if you are asked by a horse rider to slow down, stop or turn off your engine then please do so. They are looking out for your safety as well as their own.

Living in the South West, many of the team have horses or have ridden in the past, all can report a near miss or something they wish a vehicle would have done differently.

One of Enable Law’s own solicitors has reported issues whilst out riding her horse. Upon being passed by a large vehicle her daughter asked the driver to turn his engine off to allow her to move her young horse to a safe place to allow him to pass. He did not do this and instead her daughter was met with abuse.

Any injury can be serious however vulnerable road users are likely to experience serious, potentially life changing injuries. Injuries that could be sustained by a horse rider coming off their horse can include:

spinal injuries 
traumatic brain injuries
multiple broken bones
pelvic fractures

These kind of injuries require substantial rehabilitation and can have a life-changing effect on the victim.

If you have been injured as a result of a road traffic collision whilst out riding your horse please do get in touch and one of our specialist personal injury solicitors will be able to assist.