A new Police Scotland campaign is aimed at reducing injuries and deaths as a result of vehicles passing too close to horses.
Operation Lose the Blinkers, supported by the British Horse Society (BHS) and Glasgow City Council, is aimed at all road users, with particular emphasis on the fringes of large towns and cities, where many riders keep and exercise their horses.
Since 2010, two riders have been killed, 50 injured, 43 horses injured and 10 horses killed on Scotland’s roads. Many of these incidents have been caused by vehicles either colliding with the horse or passing too close.
Operation Lose the Blinkers will involve plainclothes officers from Police Scotland’s mounted branch patrolling areas of concern and recording incidents of bad driving on camera.
“In the first instance, drivers will be stopped by road policing officers and educated in the hazards of passing horses incorrectly, however we will move to an enforcement phase in early November, and so I would urge all road users to take care and drive or ride appropriately at all times” said inspector Janet Dickie from the force’s roads policing division.
“We recognise the vulnerability that horse riders experience on our roads and this campaign is aimed at both riders and those who may come across them, as we all share the same road and need to show mutual respect.
“I am urging all drivers to give horses as much room as possible when you pass, as failure to give sufficient space is considered careless or even dangerous driving and drivers face prosecution for failing to do so. Likewise, I am urging all horse riders to make sure they are as visible as possible, particularly as the days shorten, by wearing high-visibility clothing and giving clear signals.”
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Glasgow City Council has funded a poster and leaflets highlighting the issue.
“We want to remind drivers that horses can be unpredictable, and even the most well-trained horse can react to its instincts and want to move quickly away from what it considers to be a threat,” added BHS director of safety Alan Hiscox.
“It is worth remembering that there are three brains working when a horse and rider meet a vehicle on the road, the driver’s, the rider’s and the horse’s. There is room for everyone on the road if we all show some consideration.”