Did you know that there are around a million horses in the UK and more than 4 million riders? It’s hardly surprising then that you’ll often come across horses and riders on the roads, usually as they make their way to a local bridleway.
Tragically, figures from the British Horse Society show that 315 horses were killed on UK roads in less than nine years.
Responsible riders will wear high-visibility clothing when they’re on the roads, only ride during daylight hours and, whenever possible, avoid busier routes.
However, as a driver it’s still important to take extra care – especially when driving around bends – so that you can see horses and their riders in plenty of time and take appropriate action.
As a driver, it’s important to take extra care – especially when driving around bends – so that you can see horses and their riders in plenty of time and take appropriate action.
Horses are unpredictable animals and can be easily scared. The Highway Code states that when passing horses you should always treat them as a potential hazard.
Rule 215 of the Highway Code urges motorists to take particular care when overtaking horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles. It points out that horse riders are often children and that riders may be riding in double file when they’re accompanying an inexperienced rider.
It advises drivers to keep their speed down on narrow country roads and on bends. If a road is blocked by a horse or other animal, it recommends bringing your car to a complete stop, switching off the engine and waiting until they have left the road.
Motorists and motorcyclists gradually move to the centre of the road when turning right. However, horse riders are advised to keep left until they reach the shortest route to execute a right turn.
Most riders will avoid using roundabouts. If they do, they will stay to the left and only signal left when they’re nearing the exit they want to take. When they pass exits they’re not using they’ll signal right to let you know they’re not leaving the roundabout.
As well as hand signals, riders are advised to let drivers know they have seen you by making eye contact. Often they will acknowledge your considerate driving with a wave, but sometimes they will have to keep both hands on the reins.
Follow these simple guidelines whenever you encounter horses on the road and you’ll be doing your bit to keep yourself, the horse and its rider safe.
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