9 November 2001

Be bright and be safe

Horsemen and women are being urged to brighten up in a

bid to improve their safety as the winter nights draw in.

Jane Shepherd reports

THE British Horse Society wants riders to consider high-visibility clothing as vital to their safety as the life-saving riding helmet.

It is not difficult to see why the BHS – who report more than 3000 horse-related accidents on British roads every year – is so committed to the campaign for high-visibility clothing. Nichola Gregory, BHS spokesperson, said: "Research shows that by wearing high-visibility clothing, horse and rider can expect to be seen three seconds earlier than if they were not.

"Three seconds does not sound a lot, but it really can make a difference in the time it takes a driver to slow down and prevent a collision. Furthermore, it is the instinctive reaction of a driver to slow down when faced with a horse and rider well-kitted out in high-visibility clothing. It has an effect similar to that of the blue flashing lights of the emergency services.

"The more you wear the safer you are. Think about how much a police horse and rider – who have for many years worn high-visibility clothing – stand out, or motorway maintenance workers. Often the first part of the horse and rider that motorists will see from their car is the riders head bobbing over a hedge and fluorescent hat covers are a good way of being seen.

"High-visibility exercise sheets are excellent because they cover such a large area and the movement of fluorescent bandages on horses legs makes them eye-catching."

The BHS – which sells high-visibility products from its bookshop – not only wants people to wear the clothing in dull weather but even on the brightest days to counteract the adverse affect of sunlight on drivers vision. The society recommends horses are not ridden on roads at night.

High-visibility equipment and lighting comes in a variety of styles to cater for all tastes and requirements and is not exclusive to horse and rider. Reflective coats, belts, bands and hats are ideal for walkers, runners and workers in dull or dark environments. Even dogs benefit from protection on night walks and a range of products are available for mans best friend.

Mother and daughter Jackie and Jordan Kirkland, of Staffs, tried out some high-visibility products from Aerborn, Eyecatchers and Saddlecraft, to see how they performed.

Jackie said: "It is amazing the different response you get from drivers when wearing high-visibility products.

"I think they are an essential piece of kit and particularly useful for people living in or visiting rural areas who walk, ride, run or bicycle along country lanes, as well as busier main roads.

"Jordan and I stand out and I feel much safer now wearing this equipment."