Cars dent, horse riders break: Analysis of police-recorded injury incidents involving ridden horses on public roads in Great Britain

Organisation: British Horse Society

Date of Publication: October 2022

Uploaded to Knowledge Centre: 7 February 2023

Police-recorded road injury data are frequently used to approximate injury risk for different road user groups but a detailed analysis of incidents involving ridden horses has not previously been conducted. This study aims to describe human injuries resulting from interactions between ridden horses and other road users on public roads in Great Britain and identify factors associated with severe to fatal injuries.

Police-recorded road incident data involving ridden horses (2010–2019) were extracted from the Department for Transport (DfT) database and described. Multivariable mixed-effects logistic regression modeling was used to identify factors associated with severe/fatal injury outcomes.

A total of 1,031 injury incidents involving ridden horses were reported by police forces, involving 2,243 road users. Out of 1,187 road users injured, 81.4% were female, 84.1% were horse riders, and 25.2% (n = 293/1,161) were in the 0–20 year age category.

Horse riders represented 238/267 serious injuries and 17/18 fatalities. Vehicle types involved in incidents where horse riders were seriously/fatally injured were mostly cars (53.4%, n = 141/264) and vans/light goods vehicles (9.8%, n = 26).

Horse riders, cyclists, and motorcyclists had higher odds of severe/fatal injury compared to car occupants (p < 0.001). Severe/fatal injuries were more likely on roads with 60–70 mph speed limits versus 20–30 mph roads, while odds of severe/fatal injury increased with increasing road user age (p < 0.001).

Improved equestrian road safety will largely impact females and young people as well as reducing risk of severe/fatal injuries in older road users and those using modes of transport such as pedal-cycles and motorcycles. Our findings support existing evidence that reductions in speed limits on rural roads would help reduce the risk of serious/fatal injuries.

Practical applications:
More robust equestrian incident data would better inform evidence-based initiatives to improve road safety for all road users. We suggest how this can be done.

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