‘People are ready for change’: New calls for laws to protect horses on roads

  • Riders are urged to sign a new petition calling for laws to protect horses on the roads.

    The petition, created by road safety campaigner Debbie Smith, is asking the government to make sections 163 and 215 of the Highway Code law. This would mean drivers must only overtake when safe to do so, pass horses wide and slow, at a maximum of 15mph, and abide by riders’ requests to slow down or stop.

    Debbie, founder of the Pass Wide and Slow (PWAS) Facebook group, told H&H if the sections were made law she hopes the police could prosecute more drivers who do not pass horses safely.

    “At the moment the Highway Code only advises drivers – there is no law to say people have to pass slowly,” she said.

    “Drivers can pass you at 60mph and if they’re not breaking the speed limit, it’s very difficult to prosecute.”

    The petition launched on Wednesday (4 February) evening and has reached more than 8,800 signatures so far. At 10,000 signatures the government must respond.

    **Click here to sign the petition**

    “The response has been incredible. The signatures have gone up so fast – it’s made me feel like I’m not on my own on this,” said Debbie, who successfully took a road safety petition to parliament in 2016.

    “You would think people might get bored of petitions but the comments have been really positive and people are keen to get it done.”

    Debbie said the ultimate aim is to reach 100,000 signatures, which means the petition will be considered for debate by parliament.

    “We need to get it to into parliament,” she said. ‘

    “People are ready for a change. I think they saw the first petition get to parliament and have thought let’s keep banging on about it. Some people said it wouldn’t get there and it did.”

    Debbie hopes the PWAS awareness rides being held across the UK on 10 May will help raise awareness of the petition.

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    “We have 137 awareness rides planned so far. We’ve asked everyone who is hosting a ride to create an event on Facebook and share the petition,” she said.

    “Everyone needs to sign it and share it and help us get the law changed so riders are protected. You can’t be confident we’ll get to 100,000 as people can get bored but we’ve got to keep trying.”

    The Highway Code states:

    Section 163: Overtake only when safe it is safe and legal to do so.

    Section 215: Be particularly careful of horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles especially when overtaking. Always pass wide and slowly. Horse riders are often children, so take extra care and remember riders may ride in double file when escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider. Look out for horse riders’ and horse drivers’ signals and heed a request to slow down or stop. Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard; they can be unpredictable, despite the efforts of their rider/driver.

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