Inroads into Equestrian Safety: Rider-Reported Factors Contributing to Horse-Related Accidents and Near Misses on Australian Roads
2. Experimental Section
2.1. Materials and Methods
- Do you ride or lead horses on public roads or road related areas?
- Please name the roads and area in which you do the majority of your riding.
- Have you had any accidents or near misses on these roads in the last 12 months? If so, please describe what happened and include any suggestions for road design or rule improvement that may have helped prevent this from happening.
- Have you got any suggestions for updates to the Australian Road Rules you would like to see in relation to the riding or driving of horses? If so, please explain.
- Do you have any suggestions for road related infrastructure design or signage that would make roads more horse rider friendly?
- Any other suggestions you have to improve general road safety for horse riders on roads?
3.1. Rider-Reported Contributory Factors and Suggestions
My horse spooked at a ute [utility vehicle] that was flying towards us on a dirt road, even though I was signaling for him to slow down [an arm extended to the left and moved up and down]. He didn't stop until my horse stepped out in front of himVehicles move to other side of the road but continue to do same speed (80–100 kph) even when I’m wearing hi vis [high visability clothing] and signaling for [the] driver to slow down.
A horse can spook and put the driver is a precarious position if the horse kicks out or worse jumps on the car. Most drivers have not a clue the danger they put themselves in by passing a horse at speedThere seems to be a lack of understanding by the average driver about the athleticism and unpredictable nature of horses. Simply overtaking on a country road and continuing sometimes at 80+ ks is a serious risk which I experience with some regularityMost drivers are not aware of how to behave around a horse and assume that if the horse is on the road that it is completely bombproof to traffic.
[A] driver tried to pass me, very close, as my horse was baulking at something on the road. Fortunately she was going very slowly and although my horse backed into her car there was no major damage to either party.
When I signal to drivers to slow down they sometimes completely ignore me even if I am clearly having trouble with my horse.
... We ended up down the ditch, at which point he slammed brakes on, and abused me for being on the road on a horse, and both drivers told me horses are not allowed on the road…Most drivers don't think horses and riders have a right to utilise the road and I have often been abused for being on the road.Had people toot, rev engines, yell out windows causing my horse to react. Never been hit but I always try to stay well off the road edge if cars are coming.
3X the same guy has driven at me deliberately & pulled out at the last second. 1/2 full beer bottles thrown at me & the horse, while crossing the bridge, along with having a bicycle pass me on the inside, a car sit no more than 15cms behind the horses back legs, horns tooted, abuse yelled to get off the road, all while crossing the bridge. A learner driver pass me missing my right foot by mere cms, cars speed up when over taking & or drop down a gear for more power & revved engines. So it goes on.
Have had deliberate attempts to frighten my horse (Harley Davidsons revving their motors while stationary beside me! Passengers waving and yelling as they drive past)
If there is an incident/accident the rider is usually trying to control their horse or is on the ground after falling and there is no opportunity to get rego [registration] numbers of drivers. No point reporting the incident to the police as the driver can’t be identified. Could be worthwhile to have a study on where these incidents tend to happen though—riders might report at least locations if they knew someone/police were collating data for a study.
3.2. Rider Understanding of Road Rules
I believe a very old but valid law exists. i.e., if a motorist sees a horse fractious/frightened he should pull over and turn off his engine (South Australian rider)
Drivers must give way and slow down and even stop if requested. The problem is our ability, or lack thereof, to enforce these rules (Victorian rider)…need better publishing of the existing laws—most drivers don’t know they are required to slow down or stop if signaled (South Australian rider)
a driver only has to do what a rider says if a horse becomes “Restive” meaning unsettled. By then it's too late!!!! The law needs to state: keep a minimum of 5 m away from the back of a horse & a minimum of 2 m away from a horse when overtaking & a speed limit of 30 km maximum when passing a horse … the law needs to be the same in all states of Australia.
3.3. Rider Suggestions for Improving Safety
I believe if riders ride on the road they should wear a high vision (sic) vest. I have recently started doing this every time I leave my property gates and I feel it makes a HUGE difference to my safety.Possibly consider riders wearing safety vest and/or hi viz for their horses make them more visible. I have done this a few times now and found drivers acknowledge the risk and slow down.
I think a “slow when passing” or something similar in addition to the picture would be helpful.I think it could help to include “Pass Slow & Wide” with the pictured horse & rider sign commonly used. Just telling people there are horses about doesn't help them know what to do.Maybe the yellow signs with horse pics [pictures] on them could include lower speed limit or state “reduce speed”.
… I think the best way to achieve this is a major … road safety campaign that is put in newspapers and on the television, something particularly graphic that highlights that many of these people out there riding are young girls, mothers, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles etc. They are PEOPLE. And they can and will die from people doing stupid things past them. There are numerous road safety campaigns for horses but they are all online and will only be seen by those people looking for them, which is mainly other horse riders. This campaign needs to reach the people who aren't looking for it, hence suggesting mass media. A recent Facebook post regarding a tabard with a built in camera has attracted numerous comments from people saying they get annoyed by horse riders and deliberately speed up to teach them a lesson and hopefully they won’t ride on the roads anymore. They need to learn that this is ILLEGAL and could not only kill the rider but kill them too. A nice image of a driver being taken to hospital and dying while a horses legs stick out his windscreen might go some way to doing the trick.
4.1. Incidents and Contributing Factors
4.2. Research Limitations
4.3. Potential Safety Interventions
4.3.1. Identifying Equestrians on Roads as VRUs and their Horses as Sentient Decision-Making Vehicles
4.3.2. Harmonising Laws Regarding Passing Horses
4.3.3. Mandating Personal Protective Equipment
4.3.4. Improving Road Signage
4.3.5. Data Collection
- Determine the distribution, frequency and consequence of horse-related near-misses and accidents
- Identify at-risk rider and driver groups, or high risk locations
- Justify and prioritise interventions
- Evaluate interventions
4.3.6. Developing Mutual Understanding amongst Road-Users
4.3.7. Safer Road Design and Alternative Riding Spaces
4.3.8. Increasing Investment in Horse-Related Safety Initiatives
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Thompson, K.; Matthews, C. Inroads into Equestrian Safety: Rider-Reported Factors Contributing to Horse-Related Accidents and Near Misses on Australian Roads. Animals 2015, 5, 592-609. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5030374
Thompson K, Matthews C. Inroads into Equestrian Safety: Rider-Reported Factors Contributing to Horse-Related Accidents and Near Misses on Australian Roads. Animals. 2015; 5(3):592-609. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5030374Chicago/Turabian Style
Thompson, Kirrilly, and Chelsea Matthews. 2015. "Inroads into Equestrian Safety: Rider-Reported Factors Contributing to Horse-Related Accidents and Near Misses on Australian Roads" Animals 5, no. 3: 592-609. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani5030374