The British Horse Society launches ‘Look Out for Laura’ campaign aimed at improving attitude to horse riders

The British Horse Society (BHS) is urging drivers to humanise horse riders with the launch of it’s ‘Look Out for Laura’ video campaign. This is an extension of the hugely successful ‘Dead Slow’ campaign which the BHS launched in response to the alarming number of incidents between horse riders and vehicles on the roads.

The British Horse Society launches ‘Look Out for Laura’ campaign aimed at improving attitude to horse riders

In 2021, this number totalled a startling 2,943 incidents. Compared to 2020, this is an increase of over 2,000 cases reported to the BHS. Of the 2,943 reports, sadly 66 horses have been killed and over 129 injured. 


As part of its ‘Look Out for Laura’ campaign, the BHS has developed two emotive videos to encourage drivers to think about how they look at, and empathise with, horse riders when they’re out on the road. The videos tell the story of two horse riders who rely on riding as a way to de-stress from their hectic, working lives. 


This campaign has been informed by considerable research carried out by Nottingham Trent University, in collaboration with the BHS and Cycling UK, with funding from The Road Safety Trust, who are dedicated to achieving zero deaths and serious injuries on UK roads. It demonstrates that respondents who were exposed to safety videos which adopted a humanised approach significantly improved how they passed vulnerable road users, giving a greater passing distance and slowing down their speed.


This change in attitude is more important than ever and will help ensure more drivers are adhering to the BHS Dead Slow campaign messages. Dead slow was launched to help better educate drivers on how to safely pass horses on the road. In line with the new Highway Code changes, the campaign consists of four key behavioural change messages to drivers: 


If I see a horse on the road then I will …
1. Slow down to a maximum of 10mph
2. Be patient – I won’t sound my horn or rev my engine 
3. Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width if possible
4. Drive slowly away


Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society said: “The number of incidents involving horses on Britain’s roads remain far too high. It is, therefore, vital that we continue to urge drivers to be more considerate when passing horses and aware of how to do this safely.


Through our own research we have been able to demonstrate that the ‘Look Out for Laura’ campaign has been successful in changing attitudes towards horse riders, with nearly 40% of respondents stating that the videos have changed their opinion of vulnerable road users. 


We continue to work hard to change people’s perceptions of horse riders and to educate more riders about the people underneath the riding hats. It’s an essential message that will help to reduce the significant number of horses being killed on Britain’s roads.” 


Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK said: “Someone cycling or riding a horse isn’t just a different type of road user, they’re someone’s son, daughter, partner, neighbour or work colleague. Intuitively, Cycling UK has always believed that road safety awareness campaigns need to encourage people to think about other road users from that perspective: as a person they might know, with family and friends, or perhaps as a carer, nurse or teacher for them or their family. 


This research shows that humanising horse riders and cyclists is a far more effective approach, and it’s crucial that future road safety campaigns reflect this to enhance empathy and understanding of anyone travelling from A to B in a different way.”


The BHS encourages all riders to report their incidents to the charity, at horseincidents.org.uk or through its app Horse i. The more incidents that are reported, the more the BHS can do to protect the rights of horse riders on the Britain’s roads.