After an MP asked parliament if there were any plans to introduce stricter sanctions for incidents on the road caused by horse riders or cyclists using their mobile phones, H&H investigates...
Calls have been made for riders not to use mobile phones while exercising horses on the road, despite the fact there are no plans to introduce new related penalties.
Luke Evans, MP for Bosworth, asked the transport secretary in a written question to parliament whether there were plans to introduce sanctions for riders and cyclists found to have caused accidents by using mobile phones while riding.
The government replied at the end of May to say it had no plans to “introduce new penalties for cyclists and horse riders using mobile phones while riding”.
“All road users are required to comply with road traffic law in the interests of their own safety and that of other road users,” the reply said. “For those who do not adopt a responsible attitude, there are already laws in place that can make them liable for prosecution. The official Highway Code explains the law and gives advice for cyclists and horse riders on how to safely use our roads.”
Dr Evans told H&H some of the residents of his rural constituency had raised concerns about incidents caused by riders and cyclists using mobile phones.
“I wanted to follow this up and ask ministers for reassurances that action can be taken if an accident is indeed caused by negligence.
“To be honest I wasn’t aware that this was a particularly large problem, although the ministerial response has prompted a number of people to contact me from other parts the country for whom it is a significant matter.
“I will see how this develops further and call for action if any is needed.”
British Horse Society director of safety Alan Hiscox told H&H: “As vulnerable road users, it is vitally important horse riders and carriage drivers adhere to the rules of the Highway Code when riding on the road.
“Rule 53 states that equestrians should keep both hands on the reins, unless when signalling, so they should not be using mobile phones while riding, unless in an emergency. In addition, riders should always concentrate on their surroundings so they can react quickly to any circumstance.
“While remaining safe on the roads is not always fully in our control, we are all responsible for ensuring we keep ourselves as safe, as visible and as in control as possible.”
Ian Dexter of HorseSolicitor told H&H that should a rider be proven to be on the phone when an accident occurred, and a related claim went to court, it could be argued that the opposition could argue contributory negligence on the rider’s part; that the rider was not paying full attention to the road so was partly at fault.
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