Major Changes to Highway Code Come into Effect

Posted on 6th December 2021

Following on from recent high profile campaigns on safety for equine road users, the ABRS+ welcomes the news that the changes have now come into effect for the UK Highway Code, bringing 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. These changes have come into effect on 29 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 is 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 is 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. This means that, while vehicles have a responsibility to reduce danger to horse riders, horse riders have a duty to reduce dangers to pedestrians.

The changes also address guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking horse riders. Specifically, 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 includes:

One would also assume that this guidance will also be applicable to non-mounted equines on the roads such as those being led in hand or the training of young equines.

Other key highlights in the change include:

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 new guidance can be found here: Changes to Highway Code

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