VR film sets out to improve safety for horses and riders

10.01 | 13 June 2018 | | 3 comments

The British Horse Society has launched a new virtual reality film to raise awareness of the safety issues horse riders face on Britain’s roads.

The new film, which forms part of the BHS’ ongoing Dead Slow campaign, aims to give drivers first-hand experience of how it feels to be riding a horse when a car passes either too fast or too close.

The film also demonstrates what drivers experience when approaching a horse in a vehicle that is travelling too fast.

In the last scene, viewers are in a car with BBC Sport presenter Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes, who explains how to pass a horse in a safe manner.

The BHS’s Horse Accidents website shows that from November 2010 to March 2018 there were 2,902 road incidents involving horses – ranging from a near miss to a collision.

Since the website was launched, the BHS says there have been reports of 39 riders killed and 230 horses killed or euthanized because of their injuries. 85% of these incidents have been where a vehicle has passed too close or too fast.

Since the launch of the Dead Slow campaign in 2016, the BHS has been working with many organisations to educate drivers on how to pass horses safely.

The four Dead Slow campaign messages are designed to influence drivers and change their behaviour around horses:

  • Slow down to a maximum of 15mph
  • Be patient
  • Pass the horse wide and slow, giving at least a car’s width where possible
  • Drive slowly away

Alan Hiscox, director of safety at the BHS, said: “We believe that we can tell drivers how to behave around horses and they will forget; we can show them and they will remember – but if we involve them with our VR film they will understand.

“This film is groundbreaking and means we can go to any driving event and involve drivers in a unique way.”

The new film is being launched today at the Houses of Parliament in London.


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    As a motorcycle rider and B road lover I occasionally encounter horses though you can also anticipate their proximity if droppings are on the road. I pass them slowly and with a wide birth keeping my engine on low rpm and keep my noise level down after passing them. I once met a horse that went skittish long before I got close. It was safe for me to turn off the engine so I let it pass. One has to be particularly careful when children are being led as they are more likely to be startled and lack experience.

    Most (all) of my encounters have been pleasant and with mutual courtesy.

    You see we do listen..nice video.

    cbf600 rider, Sheffield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    We tend to accept that the car driver is always at fault when there is conflict between horses and vehicles. I have many friends that ride and I can say that horses like people are varied in their nature. Some are confident, some passive and some aggressive and other shy etc. Some horses take to the road naturally and are no problem but some are more nervous or inexperienced, just like some young and or inexperienced riders and either can create their own problems whenever a motor vehicle drives by or indeed comes anywhere near them. Some horses ans some riders should not be on the road at all being so inexperienced or not schooled sufficiently. That meaning both the horse and the rider.

    So drivers should understand that the horse and the rider is like being a learner driver and having L plates on and therefore one should always make sure that they are passed safety without overdue concern.

    PS. I would suggest that a speed of 5 mph is required in order to pass with any degree of safety and to give as much safe space as is possible or to wait until more space is available and not pass closely. Possibly stopping and turning off the engine could help nervous horses or rider. Motorcycles with loud exhausts may need to stop and turn their engines off or just stop and be in tick over. It will only be for a few seconds no more and both can be on their own way.

    Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

    BHS have tried to harness VR technology in a really positive way with this initiative. The tech is used to create an opportunity for generating understanding and empathy from the driver towards a ‘mode’ with which he or she may have no direct experience.

    Without getting close to upsetting the target group the film does help to illustrate the level of alarm that might be experienced by a rider suffering a close or quick pass. Following that with a call to action that’s both positive and achievable is another plus.

    It would be good to see more of this kind of approach whilst acknowledging the additional challenges of placing it in a setting that enables further learning and a chance to create real commitment towards changed behaviours.

    All good wishes to Alan and BHS for taking the project forward.

    Jeremy, Exeter
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

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