“Living so close to the city centres of Birmingham and Coventry poses a challenge for the four-legged variety of road user. There is a real risk that for some drivers, who may not be familiar with navigating round horses slowly can cause serious accidents on rural roads especially where the national speed limit applies”.
These are the words of local MP Dame Caroline Spelman who earlier this week took part in a Parliamentary debate to raise awareness of the dangers of vehicles passing horses at speed.
The debate, which was held in support of the British Horse Society’s campaign ‘Dead or Dead Slow’ emphasised the dangers posed by motorists passing horses and riders at speed, and the fact that this has led to the deaths of over 200 horses and 38 riders since 2010.
Dame Caroline, who is a keen rider herself, used the debate to call on the government and local authorities to improve signage along the lines of the successful “Think Bike” campaign to alert drivers to motorbikes and to consider a new designation for off-road safe riding for equestrians.
Speaking in the debate the MP said: “There is a terrible dearth of bridleways and they do not connect up. Often, they are seen as multi-purpose—for pedestrians, cyclists and even motorised transport as well as horses— and that leads to great reluctance on the part of landowners to extend any sort of bridle path network.
She added: “Greater awareness needs to be raised of the advisory speed limit of 15 mph for motorists when passing horses. It is regrettable that in being ignorant of this we have seen over 2300 incidents of vehicles colliding with horses or riders on our roads in recent years.