There are no blinkers on horses when it come to detecting the approach of an electric vehicle according to a new study. Equines, it seems can sense an EV before their riders, according to a major research programme into how they respond to the noise – or lack of it – from EVs.
Problems only arise when drivers either pass too quickly or too close to horse and rider.
The study carried out by the British Horse Society (BHS) in collaboration with Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University and the Electric Vehicle Association Scotland showed that low-level noises produced by electrical vehicles can be detected by horses.
Research took place at Dunecht estate in Aberdeenshire with three horses and three different models of electric car driving at varying speeds
According to the BHS, the ‘Characterisation of Horse Response to Electric Car Noise’ report provides significant insight not only helping to alleviate concerns from riders about how their horses react to electric vehicles due to limited sound levels, but also be a vital tool when it comes to encouraging drivers, regardless of whether they are driving an electronic or conventional vehicle, to be careful when passing horses on the road.
On UK roads last year, there were almost 3,000 road incidents involving horses reported to the BHS…resulting in 66 horses dying (129 injured); 126 people were injured and 13% of riders were victims of road rage or abuse. Over 84% of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too closely to the horse and 75% of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly.
Announcing details of the report at the Eglinton Country Park in North Ayrshire, Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at the British Horse Society said: “With more and more electric cars on Britain’s roads, this report’s new data and analysis provides a significant insight. Not only will it help to alleviate concerns from riders about how their horse reacts to electric vehicles due to limited sound levels, but it will also be a vital tool when it comes to encouraging drivers, regardless of whether they are driving an electric or conventional vehicle, to be careful when passing horses on the road.”
EVA Scotland director, Neil Swanson welcomed the research findings.
” Research such as this is essential and invaluable both from an EV driver’s and horse rider/owner’s perspective. Safety of horses and their riders on our roads is paramount and understanding of how to support the vigilance of both parties is essential if incidents are to be avoided.
“As the number of electric vehicles on Scotland’s highways and by-ways soars, EVA Scotland encourages all road users to take note of the report’s findings and strive towards creating harmony on our roads.”
Last year, there were 2,943 road incidents involving horses reported to the BHS resulting in 66 horses dying (129 were injured); 126 people were injured and 13% of riders were victims of road rage or abuse. Over 84% of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too closely to the horse and 75% of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly.
Horse owner and an electric vehicle driver for almost 10 years, Elinor Chalmers says this report is “an important piece of research”.
A regularly rider with her two horse on local back roads in Fife, she added: “There is an increasing number of reported incidents involving horses and vehicles. The proportion of electric our roads is rising exponentially and therefore it is important to assess how horses react to these quieter vehicles. It will help keep horse, rider and drivers safe when they meet.”
Although she hasn’t had any adverse experiences with EVs she maintains: “Even when driving my electric car, I’m always additionally cautious when approaching an equine in case they haven’t heard me coming however, I find however that the horse is often aware of my presence but the rider is not!”
Professor James Njuguna, Research Strategic Lead at Robert Gordon University, added: “The number of horse and electrical vehicle accidents and incidents are on the rise with society’s shift to electric vehicles, bicycles, and scooters. A better understanding of horse behaviour in the presence of an electric vehicle is a step forward for the shared road safety of all road users: drivers, riders, and horses alike. It is a pleasure to support this effort alongside the BHS and EVA Scotland in this campaign. The findings clearly indicate the horse is cautiously recognising EVs long before the rider does and forms a baseline for detailed studies in future.”
The British Horse Society is the largest equine charity in the UK dedicated to education, equine welfare, protecting and increasing access to bridleways and places to ride and carriage drive off road, and safety for horse and riders.
The BHS Dead Slow Campaign tells drivers approaching horses to:
* Slow down to a maximum of 10mph
* Be patient, don’t sound your horn or rev your engine
* Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least 2 metres if possible
* Drive away slowly
* The practical part of the research took place at Dunecht estate in Aberdeenshire with three horses and three different models of electric car driving at varying speeds…audio and video recordings were taken.
* The scientific analysis took several weeks in a lab at RGU..observations were repeatable and significant
* The riders’ ability to read the road, stay vigilant, scan for hazards, be in tune with subtle reactions in the horse are significant factors in road safety. The BHJS has a Ride Safe Award (training) to help with this.
* The BHS is keen to carry out further research in a more controlled environment and is seeking funding.
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