More horses killed on Devon’s roads

Ross Bryant
Ross Bryant

Devon has seen a substantial increase in collisions between horses and cars, new figures have shown. 36 horses were killed on Devon’s roads in 2018, compared to no recorded horse deaths the previous year.

The figures represent both roaming horses in National Parks and horses ridden on roads.

Figures from the British Horse Society reveal that the overall number of ‘incidents’ ranging from traffic passing with too little room to full blown collisions rose from 17 to 137 in just one year across the county. Whilst there has been an increase in incidents across the South West, neighbouring counties have only seen a fraction of the rise. Somerset saw 19 incidents, up from nine.

Cornwall had one horse fatality and 17 incidents up from 13. The least amount of incidents in the region were in Dorset, which had an increase from five to eight incidents.

The increase in incidents follows a partnership with Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society and The Verderers of the New Forest, encouraging them to report all incidents involving wild ponies and horses to the British Horse Society’s accident website.

The number of animal road deaths has also increased specifically on Dartmoor. Over the last six years the number of animal deaths has increased exponentially. In 2013 there were 71 animals reported to have been killed by the Livestock Protection Officer Karla McKechnie, last year, there were 158. The numbers are understood to be lower than the actual number of deaths due to animals injured and dying away from the roadside.

Nationally, the new statistics reveal that nearly two horses a week are being killed on Britain’s roads, with over 845 incidents involving horses and drivers.

Over the last year four people have lost their lives and 115 have been injured due to road incidents whilst riding. According to the charity, over 87
horses were killed on the roads nationally last year, and a further 117 horses have been injured.

Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society said: “The inclusion of horse incident statistics from Dartmoor and the New Forest allow us to have a much better understanding of the rate of incidents occurring on our roads. The dramatic increase is of huge concern, but we are aware that only one in 10 accidents are reported to us, therefore these figures are only the tip of the iceberg. We will continue to promote our key Dead Slow messages and strive to ensure all vulnerable road users are kept safe.”

In response to the rise The British Horse Society has launched its ‘Dead Slow’ road safety campaign to help educate drivers on how to pass horses on the road.

The four key behavioural change messages to drivers are to slow down to 15 miles per hour, avoid using the horn or revving the engine, pass the horse with plenty of distance and to drive away slowly.