The Road Safety Authority (RSA), Horse Sport Ireland (HSI), Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and An Garda Síochána have come together to launch a road safety appeal calling on horse-riders and other road users to share the roads safely.
The appeal comes as a recent survey of over 1,700 horse riders, reveals that four in five (85%) horse riders experienced an incident when on the road with their horse, with 12% of those incidents resulting in injury to either the horse or rider.
The Irish Horse Representative organisations, together with the RSA and An Garda Síochána are appealing to drivers to slow down and pass wide when they encounter horse riders and their horses on the road.
The new survey reveals that cars and jeeps have been involved in the highest percentage of reported incidents with horses on the roads while cyclists, vans, lorries and agricultural machinery account for an equal share of the remaining incidents.
The findings have led RSA, HSI, HRI and An Garda Siochana to call on all road users to familiarise themselves with existing guidelines around best practice when they encounter horses on the road.
Mr Joe Reynolds, Acting Chief Executive of Horse Sport Ireland said: “The findings of this survey are quite striking, it’s troubling to think that 85% of those polled reported being involved in some form of road safety issue while riding their horse on Irish roads.
"We are pleased to be working with the RSA to raise awareness of this and improve conditions for our members and all road-users. By following a few simple steps, you can keep yourself, your car, the horse, the rider and all the other people around you safe.”
Mr Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland said: “We have a proud tradition in Ireland of excellence in equestrian sport at national and international level. As a result, thousands of people across Ireland ride horses. All road users have a duty of care to share the road in a safe and socially responsible way and we hope our members will take the time to familiarise themselves with best practice guidelines.”
Advising road users, Regina Staunton, Senior Road Safety Promotion Officer, RSA said: “Motorists should be alert and reduce their speed when travelling in areas where horse riding is popular or when near riding schools.
"If you do encounter horses, please don’t use your horn, air brakes or lights in a way that might startle or blind a horse.
"This could cause the rider to lose control of the animal and lead to a serious incident, instead you should reduce your speed and pass wide. Similarly, cyclists should approach cautiously, ensuring that the horse rider can see or hear you approaching. Horse riders should make sure that drivers can see you at all times regardless of weather conditions by ensuring you wear proper protective gear, high-visibility clothing and put high-visibility equipment on your horse.”
Chief Superintendent Michael Hennebry, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, An Garda Síochána said: “If you meet a horse and rider on the road, you should follow a few simple steps to keep yourself, the rider and horse safe: reduce your speed and be patient, be prepared to stop and let them pass, keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the horse and obey any signals the horse rider provides.
"When overtaking a horse and rider, do not drive too close behind the horse and ensure to leave at least a car’s width between your vehicle and the horse when passing. When you have passed the horse drive away slowly.”
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