A police force’s mounted branch is taking to the streets with front- and rear-facing cameras, in hopes of catching dangerous and inappropriate driving past horses.
After concerns were raised by riders, and as part of the force’s work protecting vulnerable road users, Avon and Somerset Police’s roads policing unit supplied the mounted branch with the equipment.
Mounted section sergeant Ed Amor told H&H the section has worked with the British Horse Society on its Dead Slow road safety campaign, but had not so far carried out any particular operations in this area.
“This was mainly because we were always in demand elsewhere, but lockdown has freed us up a bit, and now the roads policing unit has given us these cameras,” he said.
“These are massive wide-angled cameras, and front and rear, so they capture everything; and as all riders know, half of what happens is behind you.”
Officers were due to wear the cameras in Bridgwater yesterday (29 January), Mr Amor said, adding that he believes some of the motivation behind the move is the success of the force’s facility for such footage to be uploaded on its website.
“We’ve had more than 100 prosecutions from footage sent in by riders and cyclists. If people are faced with that footage, most of them just plead guilty. We want to present a good strong case; and the front and rear cameras show absolutely everything.”
Mr Amor said no officers have yet been out in plain clothes, on the horses and with the cameras, but that even when they are in uniform, “we still see plenty of silly driving”.
The action was taken after a significant increase in the number of reported incidents
Hat camera footage shows the car veering dangerously near the horse
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“So I expect we’ll still get people passing who don’t know, or are disrespectful,” he said. “There are some crazy, crazy people about.”
Mr Amor hopes that as word of the cameras gets out, drivers may think twice about how they pass horses. And if that moment slows them down when passing police riders, it might also benefit other riders on the road.
“Hopefully we’ll have some results, and it might put some people off,” he said. “We’ve got quite a few followers on social media, and local radio did something; if people think ‘Hang on a minute, that horse might have a camera on it’, it might make them behave; it could make the difference.”
“But the other part of it is rider responsibility,” he added. “I wince when I see riders with no high-vis on, which seems absolutely suicidal.
“I took a pony for some dental work yesterday and saw, in the fog, two riders on the main road with no high-vis on. There’s a message to protect riders, but riders need to do what they can too.”
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