‘Our lives in their hands’: company praised for action after lorry driver failed to slow when passing horse

  • A rider who reported a lorry driver for his unsafe passing of her horse on the road has praised the company concerned for its “exemplary” response.

    Jane Hartley contacted Carrs Billington after the incident, and has since been told the company has taken extensive measures to prevent anything similar happening again.

    Jane told H&H she was riding her 18hh Irish draught Percival near her property, which is close to a very sharp bend on a B road in rural Shropshire, when the lorry came past.

    “I heard it coming and thought ‘that’s not going to slow down’, and it didn’t,” she said. “He came round the corner and past me without slowing, and just drove off.

    “It’s a company I see reasonably often and I’m quite proactive; if I’m unhappy with a signwritten van, I contact the people on the sign. I’ve always had a good response, but not as spectacular as this.”

    Jane said she had an initial reply, from the company’s southern transport manager Steve Williams, to say he appreciated the danger to horses and riders and would investigate.

    He emailed again this week to let Jane know what action had been taken. The company had reviewed the lorry’s 360-degree cameras, and had then spoken to the driver about passing horses safely and correctly.

    Mr Williams told Jane that all the company’s drivers had been issued with the 2022 changes to the Highway Code regarding passing horses, mandatory online training had been created, and a registered course on vulnerable road users included on drivers’ annual CPC training.

    “I got the email and thought ‘Oh my god’,” Jane said. “It was incredibly proactive of them – a truly outstanding example. I’m going to reply to thank him as he deserved recognition, this was absolutely exemplary.”

    Jane wanted to highlight the fact that reporting unsatisfactory passing of horses can have a positive impact.

    “Percival is a bit of a legend and perfect in traffic but if I’d been on my straight-off-the-racecourse thoroughbred, it might have been a different outcome; our lives are in drivers’ hands,” she said. “And it’s worth spreading the word that it does work if you contact people. I wasn’t rude or aggressive, just factual, and this was an outstanding response.”

    Mr Williams told H&H: “This is something we take very seriously.

    “I live in a small village and always see horses, and it doesn’t take much to slow down. That’s what we expect of all our drivers, so we’ve put a few things in place.”

    He said the training will “highlight what can and does go wrong if you go past too fast”.

    “That’s something we don’t like,” he added. “One of many reasons we installed the 360-degree cameras, not that we don’t trust our drivers, is because we take any complaint seriously. So if there is one, we can look at the footage, speak to the driver, explain what’s been done wrong and put training in place to prevent anything like it happening again.”

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