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Proposed changes to the Highway Code applauded by horse riders

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Horse roads

The Highway Code is due to see some updates in January 2022 in an attempt to make vulnerable road users, including horse riders, safer on Britain’s roads     

 New rules are set to be added to the Highway Code this January to help establish a hierarchy of road users, putting those who are most likely to be injured in collisions at the top. Pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders will be classed as the most vulnerable road users, with children, older adults and disabled people also considered to be at increased risk.

The new updates will outline how motorists should safely overtake vulnerable road users and introduce some new restrictions on the road, too. These new rules were considered last year by campaign groups, such as Cycling UK and the Department of Transport in an effort to make the road a safer place for everyone.

Some of the rule changes that’ll directly affect horse riders are…

  • Give horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians as much room as a car when passing – 1.5m for cyclists and 2m for horses
  • Wait behind the motorcyclist, cyclist, horse rider, horse-drawn vehicle or pedestrian and don’t overtake if it’s unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances
  • Drive under 10mph when passing horses and 30mph when going past cyclists
  • Drivers should take extra care and give more space when passing horse riders, horse-drawn vehicles, motorcyclists, cyclists or pedestrians in bad weather (including high winds) or at night
  • Drivers should not cut across horse riders, horse-drawn vehicles or cyclists when turning into or out of a junction, or changing direction or lane, just as you wouldn’t cut across another motor vehicle

Although a lot of these rules would hopefully be common sense for most motorists, the rule changes at least provide more clarity on what’s acceptable. Overall, the changes are being accepted warmly by the horse riding and cycling community. Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at the British Horse Society, said: “I was dancing a little jig when I read them! People ask whether the Department for Transport really listens to equestrians or considers us in the same way as cyclists, and I think this absolutely proves they do. I really think this will be a major step for the safety of horses on the roads.”

However, there are other opinions that the rule changes alone aren’t enough to make a real difference. After all, they’re advisory and aren’t backed up by law. Neil Greig, Policy director at IAM Roadsmart, said: “Informing every road user in the UK about the new rules will be a huge task, particularly when most drivers think they’re competent and don’t need to refresh their skills. Vulnerable road users deserve the highest protection from motorised vehicles but simply changing a book no one reads is unlikely to deliver the impact hoped for.”

What do you think about the new rule changes? Will they be enough to allow horse riders to feel safer on the road? Let us know in the comments below.


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Horse&Rider magazine - June 2024

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