PSA campaign urges drivers to share the road with horses
ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont is home to 75,000 horses -- nearly three times the population of Orleans County. But despite how commonplace they are, the state is still finding that some people are discourteous to horses they see on the roads.
The Vermont Horse Council and the state Thursday teamed up to shoot a televised public service announcement reminding drivers to be careful and courteous when they see a horse out on the roads.
“It’s important for drivers to be really mindful that a horse can get spooked and it’s dangerous to be that far off the ground on an animal that is much more powerful than a person,” Vt. Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling says in the 30-second spot.
Officials say that all too often, drivers speed up to horses, rev their engines, or beep their horns when encountering them on the roads. “It’s something that happens with some frequency, but it’s not an everyday occurrence,” Schirling said.
And it’s up to the drivers to be respectful because horses have blind spots in the back and front of their bodies and not much room to move over on the shoulder for their big bodies.
“Even the most well-trained horse will react on roads so slow down and pass wide,” said the Vermont Horse Council’s Carmel Stone. She says she had a close call not long ago and ended up in a ditch after her horse spooked. And she’s not alone.
“There have been many times I’ve been on the roads and you don’t even hear people taking their foot off the gas, you don’t even know if they’re aware that you’re there,” said Lisa Lafont, a council board member.
The equine industry is a significant portion of Vermont’s economy, from farms to feed companies to events bringing people to our region. A report by the UVM Center for Rural Studies says that in 2018 equine event participants spent an estimated $21-million which contributes to the local economy.
“Everybody loves Vermont. We love our green pastures and our beautiful class four roads and our bike trails and we really appreciate everybody paying attention to everyone else and saying hi and being a good neighbor,” Schirling says in the PSA, which is set to air in the coming weeks.
Copyright 2022 WCAX. All rights reserved.