H&H speaks to police from around the UK to find out how different forces are tackling issues associated with inappropriate driving when passing horses on the roads...
Action is being taken by police forces against drivers who pass horses inappropriately – but riders have been reminded that incidents must be reported to the appropriate authorities for this to happen.
Measures taken by forces across the UK include education courses, traffic notices, letters, and prosecution of drivers who break the law.
Police in Aberdeenshire reported a driver to prosecutors, who will decide whether there is a case to answer, following reports of dangerous driving in an incident with a rider on 1 July. In County Durham a man was issued a traffic 183 notice for deliberately driving at riders on 14 July.
This notice means that should the recipient be seen driving in an antisocial manner again, his vehicle can be seized.
“It doesn’t matter if he is driving the same vehicle, or a different one – if he is caught doing the same thing we can seize whatever car he is driving,” a Durham Constabulary spokesman told H&H.
“It also means if we catch that same car being driven in an antisocial manner again, it doesn’t matter if somebody else is driving, we can seize the vehicle.”
Avon and Somerset Police investigated an incident where a driver got out of his vehicle and verbally abused a rider. The driver must now take part in the force’s Ascend programme, an education and anger management course, which he must pay to do. Costs for the programme vary between £60 to £100.
“Provided the driver completes the course that’s the end of the matter, but if he doesn’t, or it’s not done satisfactorily, then the matter gets sent to court and the ramifications of that can be quite far-reaching,” PC Simon Robinson told H&H.
“There are many variables in the cases we deal with; it depends on the evidence, the individual’s previous history and if they’ve committed offences which take them above the threshold for the education programme.”
PC Robinson added that riders must report incidents.
“Riders shouldn’t feel they can’t report because previously the police haven’t done anything, or they’ve felt fobbed off with a crime reference number. There are things we can do and the more people bring it the forefront the more we can tackle it and hopefully reduce incidents,” he said.
PC Laura Rowley of Surrey Police told H&H it is difficult to prosecute without evidence, and encouraged riders to wear cameras. She added that different forces have different protocols and processes for dealing with incidents.
“The difficulty with speeding is that a device has to be calibrated [to record speed], so we can’t really deal with speed offences – but with passing too closely we have careless driving, and with evidence, there would be a potential investigation. Depending on the severity, we can send the driver a letter and warn them if they come up again we will deal with them more robustly,” she said.
“Often it only takes one letter to make drivers understand; it makes people think ‘I’ll get in trouble if I do that so I won’t do it.’”
The British Horse Society’s director of safety Alan Hiscox told H&H the organisation has been working with many police forces on road safety.
“It is significant and encouraging so many police units want to educate drivers with our ‘Dead Slow’ message together with their own education materials,” he said.
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