Thursday, August 15, 2013

Road safety: does bright clothing help?

Wearing lights when out riding on roads could be safer than wearing reflective or fluorescent clothing according to research presented at the International Society of Equitation Science annual conference, July 2013.

Rose Scofield, from Duchy College, Cornwall, UK conducted a questionnaire-based study to investigate the value of bright reflective clothing in reducing the risk of ”near misses” between horses and vehicles.

She distributed questionaires through equine websites and forums, receiving 426 replies. Participants answered questions regarding the fluorescent or reflective equipment they and their horses were wearing, and whether they had been involved in near miss incidents.

Scofield grouped the responses according to whether the respondents had experienced a “near miss” with traffic or not. Then she examined whether or not they had been wearing reflective and /or fluorescent clothing.

Most riders who responded to the questionnaire did use some reflective equipment or clothing when riding on the road.

However, when she analysed the data, what she found was perhaps surprising. Reflective clothing, worn either by the rider or the horse, appeared to have no significant effect on the likelihood of a “near miss”.

60% of riders reported a near miss. But the proportion wearing reflective clothing on either the horse or rider was similar to that of those who did not experience a near miss.

However, significantly fewer near misses were reported by riders wearing lights.Of all the riders, 8.2% wore lights and did not experience a near miss, whereas 3.6% had a near miss despite wearing lights.

“This suggests that wearing lights should possibly be recommended when riding on the roads to enhance the safety of both rider and horse and contribute to the welfare of the leisure horse in particular.” 

“The use of lights by a rider and horse combination may prove a sound contribution to the welfare of the leisure horse in avoiding possible road accidents.”

For more details see:
Road safety: is there a relationship between ‘near misses’ and the use of rider and horse reflective/fluorescent equipment?
Rose M. Scofield, Hannah Savin, and Hayley Randle,
Proceedings of the International Society of Equitation Science (2013) p30

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