Road safety: your chance to join parliament debate

  • A petition calling for better legal protection for horses on the road is to be debated in parliament – and the House of Commons wants riders’ input.

    Debbie Smith’s petition “Make it law to pass by a horse wide and slow and abide by horse riders’ hand signals”, which has been signed by nearly 109,000 people, will be discussed in Westminster Hall on Tuesday (4 July).

    And a spokesman for the House of Commons said that as part of plans to give the public more engagement with the parliamentary process, a digital debate will also take place on Monday (3 July).

    Riders are invited to submit comments on the House of Commons Facebook page, where Debbie’s MP Derek Thompson will be available from 4-5pm on Monday.

    “Mr Thomas has suggested a few questions which would help him inform the debate, but it would also be great to have input from Horse & Hound readers about the issues and concerns the public may have about the safety of riders and horse on rural roads,” said a House of Commons spokesman.

    “The debate is being supported by the British Horse Society (BHS), but we are keen to hear from as many people as possible.”

    On Monday, Mr Thomas will respond to comments and ask more questions to help inform the debate. All comments will then be passed to MPs for use in Tuesday’s discussion.

    The questions suggested by Mr Thomas are:

    • If the government was to introduce one change in legislation to improve safety for horses and riders what would you like it to be?
    • Would you welcome a Think! Horse campaign to raise awareness of riders and horses on the road similar to the successful Think! Bike campaign.
    • Would you like to see a change in speed limits on country roads, and if so, to what?
    • What do you think horse riders can do to improve their own safety, and would you welcome regulation to enforce this?


    Debbie was delighted to hear parliament will be discussing her petition, which she set up in September 2015 after a number of bad experiences while riding her own horse.

    Her ideal outcome would be a law stating drivers must abide by riders’ hand signals, such as to slow down or stop.

    “That’s my main thing, what I think will keep us all safe,” she said. “If drivers know they’re legally bound to abide by our signals – it would have kept me safe on a good few occasions.”

    She would also like to see footage from riders’ head cameras take more seriously to prove drivers’ misdemeanours, and money for creation and upkeep of safe off-road routes for hacking.

    Debbie urged riders to join the digital debate, adding: “They’ve been doing their homework and looking for people to join in, which is great.

    “The more people who do, the better; unless we make a noise, we won’t be seen as important. We need as many as possible to join in.”

    The BHS “welcomes the opportunity to provide a briefing to Derek Thomas MP”.

    A spokesman added: “We will be taking into account all aspects of this debate and look forward to representing all riders, carriages drivers and horse owners in any future developments.”

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