Major Changes Planned for Highway Code

Posted on 6th December 2021

Following on from recent high profile campaigns on safety for equine road users, the ABRS+ welcomes the news that reviews on the UK Highway Code are due to bring in clearer guidance for road users with regards to equines on the road. This is a great step forward and will be great news to those who regularly hack out, be it on their own horses, or in a riding school or trekking centre setting. The amendment is set to be enforced by January 2022.

The changes will affirm a new hierarchy for road use with an order of priority given as pedestrians > cyclists > horse riders > cars > vans > large passenger vehicles > heavy good vehicles. The aim being to ensure that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they might pose to others. The hierarchy will also applicable at junctions. with drivers to allow horse riders and other lower hierarchy road users, to approach and cross a junction, whilst they wait in a safe space.

The changes will also address establishing guidance on safe passing distances and speeds, when overtaking horse riders. Specifically, that you should give as much room as you would do when passing another car. As a driver, you must also take extra care and give more space when overtaking horse riders or horse-drawn vehicles in bad weather (including high winds) and in reduced light conditions such as evenings or in foggy weather.

The guidance for overtaking horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles will include leaving a minimum distance of 2 metres; passing at speeds under 15mph; and further, that one should wait behind a horse and rider or horse-drawn vehicle if it is not safe to overtake and not possible to meet the above guidelines. Do not push through or past a horse; horses are sentient beings who can be unpredictable. One would also assume that this guidance will also be applicable to non-mounted equines on the roads such as those being moved by hand or the training of young equines.

In the case of an accident, this means it may be clearer who’s at fault, although there are no new offences under the guidance.

Further Highway Code guidance is included for equestrians including ensuring tack fits well and is in good condition, and riding without a saddle or bridle being against the guidance. Further, before considering taking a horse on the road, ensuring the rider can control the horse essential, also outlined by the Code. It is recommended that those who are inexperienced or have not ridden in a while, consider taking appropriate riding and road safety training.

Details of the review can be found here: Review of the Highway Code 1 December 2021 

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