CHANGES to the Highway Code at the end of January have meant West Mercia Police have begun work with local stables to give greater protection for some of the county’s more vulnerable road users.
High-vis vests are being supplied to a number of stables where riders use the local roads to help raise awareness of the issue of close passes and also promote the Operation Snap initiative.
The initiative is designed to target those motorists who ignore the Highway Code rules when sharing the road with horse riders. Changes to the Highway Code now state that motorists should pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10mph and allow at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space.
Horse riders have the same right to be on the road as motorists, cyclists or any other user group and using the roads is sometimes a necessity for many horse riders.
Horses can be unpredictable and sensitive to sounds or sudden movement so motorists need to ensure they pass slowly and quietly and give at least 2 metres passing distance.
Since 2019, 22 collisions involving horses have been reported to West Mercia Police, many of these could have been avoided if road users shared the road more responsibly.
Alan Hiscox from the British Horse Society said: “I am very pleased that the BHS was able to represent the equestrian community within the Department for Transport’s Highway Code stakeholder group to ensure that all equestrians were included in the changes.
“These new changes are a significant step forward for equestrian road safety making the roads safer for everyone. It is fantastic to see that West Mercia Police have several new initiatives to get the new Highway Code message out there in the local community.”
Supt Steph Brighton, for West Mercia Police said: “Horse riding has always been popular within West Mercia due to our fantastic countryside and we have a number of stables in our policing area. We welcome the changes in the Highway Code that look to give more protection to those more vulnerable road users and we will do all we can to ensure the roads are made safer for all those that use them.
“Any road user who has footage of a close pass or any type of dangerous driving can submit this through our secure Operation Snap portal and this will be viewed and actioned as appropriate”.
For more information on Operation Snap and how to report dangerous driving, click here.