With the number of horses on the road set to rise as we enter the spring, drivers are being warned to respect animals and riders on the road to avoid hefty penalties.
Motoring experts at Quotezone.co.uk have urged Brits to ‘rein in the speed‘ when passing horses after devastating incidents.
According to the UK charity, the British Horse Society, there were 3552 equine-related road incidents last year.
Now experts are trying to reduce accidents and near-misses by educating drivers about the dangers of not passing horses safely.
A new offence, introduced at the end of June 2022, means motorists could face a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment for ‘causing serious injury by careless driving‘.
This is likely to see many prosecutions, especially where the injured party is a ‘vulnerable road user‘ like a horse rider.
The highway code was also updated in January 2022 after a public consultation to see how road safety could be improved for horse riders.
Rule 129 was updated to say that vehicles must pass horses at no more than ten mph and two metres distance.
The revised Highway Code rules also introduced a new hierarchy of road users and classified riders among the most vulnerable on the roads, alongside pedestrians.
This was the first change to the code in almost 30 years involving horses, but with road-related equine incidents still high, tougher penalties may be on the horizon for drivers.
Motorists have been warned that the highway code can be used to establish liability in any court case, and police forces say they are cracking down on drivers who fail to obey the rules of the road, actively encouraging riders to report carelessness.
Measures taken by police forces against irresponsible drivers include education notices, unlimited fines, and prosecution.
Quotezone.co.uk Founder Greg Wilson has said: “Drivers should approach horses slowly and with caution, making sure to give them a wide berth, as per the highway code, to ensure everyone remains safe on the road.
“Horse insurance is not a legal requirement, but with the number of equine-related incidents reported every year, there’s a strong argument for riders to protect themselves, so they are covered if they find themselves in an accident which is not their fault.
“Public liability insurance might also be sensible if the horse is nervous on the road. This would cover instances such as a horse being spooked and bolting off, leaving a trail of damage.
“If a horse kicks out and damages a car and it was not the driver’s fault, most fully comprehensive car insurance policies will cover the cost to have the vehicle repaired or replaced.
“With stricter road offences and harsher penalties raising awareness of this important issue, it is hoped the roads will become safer for all road users this spring.”
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