‘Our roads are not race tracks’, was the message from a Tory MP who is pushing for questions passing horses to be included in driving tests.
Tory MP Jake Berry was co-hosting a meeting with the British Horse Society (BHS) in the village of Tockholes, Lancashire, where his constituent Joanne Heys was injured in an accident last November.
“I want to really try and educate people about how to drive safely round horses because the statistics are shocking,” he said. “Thirty-eight deaths in the last five years is awful. I will be bringing this up in Parliament.
“I want people to have horse safety in their mind when they get in their car in East Lancashire. It is in the Highway Code but it needs to be strengthened somehow.
“Our roads are not race tracks and we have to make this a priority for the council to get better signs and improve the bridleways.
“But it’s a numbers game, only by coming together can we put pressure on them. The council has said that it will be looking at the roads in six weeks’ time and hopefully at that point they will decide to improve things.”
The meeting was organised by Joanne, who has spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness of road safety since her and her horse Max were involved in an accident last year.
Joanne was hacking on a local bridleway with another horse and rider when the pony she was with spun and took off, spooking Max. The 17.2hh Irish Draft bolted, and Joanne made the decision to bail out before they reached the main road.
She suffered a skull fracture in the fall and Max ran out into traffic, where he was hit by a car sustaining a punctured knee.
“I’ve been riding round here a long time and whether the accident made me more aware or things have got worse, I don’t know. About 90% of drivers are fine, but it’s the 10% who aren’t,” she told H&H at the time.
“I want to start making people more aware of horses and how to pass them, as I think sometimes people don’t know what to do, and panic.”
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Saturday’s [October 15] meeting was held to pressure the local council into improving signage and speed limits on roads and included videos and presentations from BHS staff.
Alan Hiscox, BHS Safety Director said: ‘We were very sad to hear about Joanne Heys and her horse. This event highlights the dangers that horse riders unfortunately face every day when riding on our roads. By all working together we can make a difference, which is what today’s event is all about.”