Horse riding and horse-related interactions are inherently dangerous. When they occur on public roads, the risk profile of equestrian activities is complicated by interactions with other road users. Research has identified speed, proximity, visibility, conspicuity and mutual misunderstanding as factors contributing to accidents and near misses. However, little is known about their significance or incidence in Australia. To explore road safety issues amongst Australian equestrians, we conducted an online survey. More than half of all riders (52%) reported having experienced at least one accident or near miss in the 12 months prior to the survey. Whilst our findings confirm the factors identified overseas, we also identified issues around rider misunderstanding of road rules and driver misunderstanding of rider hand signals. Of particular concern, we also found reports of potentially dangerous rider-directed road rage. We identify several areas for potential safety intervention including (1) identifying equestrians as vulnerable road users and horses as sentient decision-making vehicles; (2) harmonising laws regarding passing horses; (3) mandating personal protective equipment; (4) improving road signage; (5) comprehensive data collection; (6) developing mutual understanding amongst road-users; (7) safer road design and alternative riding spaces; and (8) increasing investment in horse-related safety initiatives.
|Author Address||The Appleton Institute, CQUniversity, 44 Greenhill Road, Wayville, SA 5034, Australia.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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