I have just been reading a report on accidents involving horses, produced by the British Horse Society. It deals with accidents involving other parties, which includes road accidents. Much of it is aimed at the riding fraternity, as you might expect, but I think two of the findings have implications we all need to consider, even if you never go near a horse. They are especially worth considering, precisely because they are not what most people, including myself, would expect.
First, let us also note on of the findings which came as no surprise to me, but might to you.
Most accidents occur on minor roads in the countryside.
· Of course this is partly because that is where you find most horses.
· It may also be because some horses react to traffic better when there is a steady flow than when a car appears suddenly.
· On country roads there are often no pavements or verges to get onto out of the way of danger.
· There are a lot of bends on minor country roads so motorists cannot see horses, or other hazards, until they are close to them.
Now let us consider the two surprising facts the Report threw up:
1. The time of most road accidents is between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. well away from the rush-hour.
2. The worst month for such accidents is June, when you would think bad weather would be less likely than in most of the year.
So why is this?
The short answer is that nobody knows.
But we can try to speculate intelligently. Let us ask ourselves a few questions.
· Are there more horses on the roads at the times their riders consider safest, despite the fact that so many people have to ride before or after work or school most days?
· Do more people ride in June because it is more pleasant?
· Are riders less vigilant because they don’t expect so much traffic at those times?
Now here are a couple of really important questions:
1) Do a lot of riders ride without high-visibility clothing when visibility is good? I have sometimes been driving and seen horses being ridden on the road only when I was quite close. High-vis would have helped me to notice them and so slow down sooner.
2) Do motorists drive faster and pay less attention when there is less traffic?
Are you still wondering what this has to do with your business?
Ask yourself these three questions:
· Do you take less care when you think the risks are lowest, in any situation?
· Do you not bother with risk controls, e.g. high-vis clothing, when you think it won’t matter?
· Do you have statistics on accidents or other risks in you business? Do you study them?
When you have thought how this applies to your business, please remember to drive wide and slowly past horses whether at noon in June or late on Christmas Eve.
If you want to see more, go to: www.bhs.org.uk/safety-and-accidents