Horses able to hear electric vehicles before humans

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9th June 2022

Horses can sense an approaching electric vehicle before their riders, but EV drivers still need to be careful when passing on the road. 

A new report from the British Horse Society (BHS), in collaboration with Robert Gordon University and the Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) Scotland, has found that the low-level noises produced by electric vehicles can in fact be detected by a horse and they can be aware of the vehicle before a rider. 

But the report also emphasises that it’s important for all drivers to adhere to the ‘Dead Slow’ advice, no matter what vehicle they’re driving. And it reminds drivers to slow down to 10mph and leave at least a car’s width when passing a horse and rider on the roads, in line with the latest Highway Code advice. 

At the same time, responsibility also lies with the rider to concentrate at all times and be aware of their surroundings. This is particularly important when it comes to electric vehicles, where the noise levels have been found to be harder to hear by humans than by horses. 

Research for the report took place at Dunecht estate in Aberdeenshire with three horses and three different models of electric car driving at varying speeds.  

It’s been heralded as providing significant insight by the BHS, which says the report will not only help to alleviate concerns from riders about how their horse reacts to electric vehicles due to limited sound levels, but will also be a vital tool when it comes to encouraging drivers, regardless of whether they are driving an electronic or conventional vehicle, to be careful when passing horses on the road.  

EVA Scotland director Neil Swanson also welcomed the research findings, which he said were essential and invaluable both from an EV driver’s and a horse rider/owner’s perspective.   

“As the number of electric vehicles on Scotland’s highways and by-ways soars, EVA Scotland encourages all road users to take note of the report’s findings and strive towards creating harmony on our roads. We believe that a great deal of the learning here applies beyond equine awareness, with the knowledge able to re-inform drivers of the needs of other road users, pedestrian or wheeled.”

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