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Is New Legislation Required to Curb Overtaking Speeds?

We’ve all experienced drivers of motor vehicles who think that it is acceptable to overtake horses at speed. Some people are just too ignorant or too selfish to slow down when they see a horse on the road. With over 2,000 accidents involving horses having been reported over the last five years, perhaps it is time for a change in the law.

Of those 2,000 accidents, more than 1500 featured motor vehicles passing a horse too closely. 181 accidents resulted in the death of a horse and there were 36 riders killed. Enough is enough!

Safety on the Roads

It is crucial that riders do everything they can to enhance their own safety. Visibility is certainly an issue as horses can be surprisingly difficult to see, especially at dawn and dusk. You should always wear hi-viz clothing and put hi-viz equipment on your horse. Try to avoid riding in fading light, darkness or times of poor visibility. Don’t ride out alone if you lack experience on the road and always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.

A Call for Change

Riders can do much to improve their own safety but they struggle to influence the behaviour of motorists. Now the British Horse Society is campaigning for a change to the law so that drivers will be forced to overtake horses at speeds not exceeding 15mph. This would be in the best interests of motorists as well as horses and equestrians because horses can do serious damage to vehicles and injure passengers during collisions. Horses are easily spooked and drivers need to be aware of this.


Riders in Nottingham have taken to the streets to campaign for change. More than 100 horses and their riders took a route through the city to call for new legislation. The group rode from Nottingham Castle to Wollaton Park and their campaign has been supported by Nottinghamshire County Council.

The council is supplying reflective armbands to equestrians which carry medical information and the riders’ emergency contacts. The armbands will make riders on the roads more visible and will help to raise awareness of problem driving.

Penny Stocks from the Horse Awareness Campaign said: "I've had some scary incidents with speeding cars, including one car which was so close to my horse that it ripped off one of its stirrups. We were lucky not to have been seriously hurt."

Common Problem

Most riders have to take to the roads at least occasionally in order to reach bridle paths. There is no reason why the presence of horses on the road should be a major issue if drivers simply slowed down and then gave the horses a sufficiently wide birth. But impatience reigns supreme and so, just like those who jump red lights and won’t stop at pedestrian crossings, some motorists don’t have any intention of slowing down to accommodate a horse.


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