NEW figures reveal that incidents in the region involving vehicles and horse riders are continuing to rise – despite efforts locally to raise awareness of the issue.

British Horse Society data shows there were 185 reported incidents in West Yorkshire last year, an increase of 17 per cent compared to 2022.

Across Yorkshire as a whole, the total was 276.

Last September, horse rides took place at Denholme and Wilsden in support of a Pass Wide and Slow initiative.

And officers from Keighley Neighbourhood Policing Team carried out an operation in the Worth Valley in response to concerns raised over motorists' treatment of riders.

Advice to drivers when encountering a horse rider is to slow to a maximum of 10mph, and leave a gap of at least two metres.

Changes were made to the Highway Code in 2022, setting out guidance for passing equestrians safely.

Alan Hiscox, director of safety at the British Horse Society, says: "Looking at last year's statistics, it's clear that a significant number of drivers are still unaware of the advice in the Highway Code and the importance of driving carefully when approaching and passing horses.

"The instinctive reaction of a horse to danger is to move very quickly. A driver passing at an inappropriate speed can be intimidating for the horse and cause alarm. That is why it is so important for drivers to consider the true power of horses, and to pass them slowly and with plenty of room, following the advice in the Highway Code."

In 2022, across the UK, 68 horses died and 125 were injured in road incidents, and 139 people suffered injuries.

Mr Hiscox adds: "Far too many lives have been lost and we're working hard to drastically reduce the number of incidents that take place. While we recognise and thank all drivers who continue to follow the Highway Code guidance, there is still much work to do, ensuring horses and equestrians are safer when out on the roads.

"Unfortunately it isn’t always possible for equestrians to stay off the roads due to the shrinking bridleway network. That's why it’s so important that we all play our part to ensure everyone remains safe.

"We're also offering clear advice for equestrians to follow when out on the roads with their horse, including wearing high-visibility and reflective equipment as well as using appropriate hand signals to make other road users aware of their intentions to manoeuvre."