REPORTS of road incidents involving horses dropped by some 23% in the four weeks after changes to the Highway Code were introduced.
H&H has reported on the changes, which came into force at the end of January, setting out that horses should be passed at a maximum of 10mph and two metres’ distance, among other amendments.
British Horse Society (BHS) director of safety Alan Hiscox told H&H that immediately afterwards, “we had lots of riders contacting us to say they’d noticed a difference in driver behaviour”.
“We noticed a 23% drop in incidents reported to us until the end of February,” he said. “I hoped it wasn’t a honeymoon period; they have crept back up again but they’re not back where they were before 29 January, they’re still about 10% down.”
Mr Hiscox added that he met a group of riders this month who, in agreement with other messages sent to the BHS, said the changes had made a difference.
“Comments included ‘I’ve noticed a big change; everyone passes really wide’, ‘It’s so much nicer riding out now’ and ‘It’s made an unbelievable difference’,” he said. “It’s great to hear that.”
Mr Hiscox added that he will be “keeping a very close eye” on the number of incidents, and that there is still a great deal of work to be done, with the Highway Code changes to “hang our hat on”.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “When I first took on the safety role, this was one of the things I wanted to do, to strengthen the Highway Code. Now that’s been achieved, the push is to make sure more and more drivers know about it.”
Jo Pay is one rider who has noticed a difference since 29 January. She told H&H she has to ride for a short distance on the A354 in Wiltshire to access safe places to ride, and although the speed limit is 40mph, a mobile camera has clocked speeds of 96 and 103mph.
She said she rides out in full high-vis, on horse and rider, but that passing cars have previously touched the high-vis ribbons on her whip.
“But since the Highway Code was amended – I was absolutely exhausted by waving at everyone to thank them!” she joked. “I only go about 400 yards but the other day, for the first time in years, 32 cars passed me and they all gave me a wide berth and went slowly. Before, when I asked for more space, I’d had abuse hurled.
“My horses are fine on the road – even better now people are being more responsible.”
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