Horse and rider safety on the United Kingdom (UK) road system: pilot evaluation of an alternative conspicuity measure

R. M. Scofield, H. Savin, H. Randle

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Previous studies have reported that the use of popular conspicuity equipment used by riders when using the UK road system does not necessarily lead to a safer environment. To date, the effectiveness of wearing fluorescent/reflective (FR) equipment as a conspicuity measure to prevent accidents has only been investigated for cyclists. Recent research using a questionnaire-based study showed that FR equipment does not significantly reduce traffic related near misses experienced by horse-rider combinations. However, wearing lights leads to significantly fewer near misses for horse-rider combinations as does riding broken coloured horses (piebald/skewbald). Transport laboratory based research reported drivers exhibit significantly faster reaction times in visual identification tests with FR colours than with dark colours. Although this finding was replicated in the live cycling/traffic environment it failed to reach significance. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of two different conspicuity tabards (FR and PieBold- a black/white tabard mimicking the coat of a broken coloured horse, PB) by comparing to a dark-coloured tabard (N). A visual identification test was designed using a specially developed slide show incorporating three images of a horse-rider combination, each wearing three different tabards, N, FR and PB. Each image was digitally manipulated to display the same combination but with different tabards. An opportunistic sample of drivers was selected from university students, 16 of whom had horse-riding experience. Drivers (n=23) were shown the images in sequence and asked to start and then stop the timer to indicate immediately when they saw the image. The timer used was a stopwatch function set to record reaction times in milliseconds on a touch sensitive screen next to the laptop used to display the slide show. Each driver was tested on each image once. Resulting reaction time data were collated in MS Excel and transferred to Minitab v17 software for analysis. Reaction time data were non parametric (AD=1.95; p<0.005). A non-parametric analysis of variance was conducted (S=31.91; df=2, p<0.001: FR median=9.01ms; range 8.41-9.71; PB median=8.8ms,range 7.9-9.74 and N median=9.83ms, range 9.65-10.06) on reaction times to determine the effect of tabard type. Further Wilcoxon tests indicated that there was no significant difference between reaction times with FR and PB (T23=187.0, p>0.05), however there was a significant difference between PB and N (T=0.0, p<0.001) and FR and N (T=0.0, p<0.001). These results indicate drivers have a quicker reaction time when presented with a horse-rider combination wearing PB and FR than when compared with N. Evaluation of PB as a conspicuity measure therefore indicates it to be possibly as effective as FR when riding on road systems. Lay person message: Drivers took part in visual identification tests to compare reaction times with three different colours of tabard worn by a rider. The tabard representing a broken coloured horse was seen by drivers more quickly than a dark tabard and compared favourably with a fluorescent/reflective tabard. This suggests horse and rider combinations could be safer on the roads if they adopted this novel type of tabard.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventInternational Society for Equitation Science (ISES 2016) - French National Riding School, Saumur, France
Duration: 23 Jun 201625 Jun 2016


ConferenceInternational Society for Equitation Science (ISES 2016)
Internet address


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