Urge your MP to back Highway Code review to reduce casualties
THE British Horse Society (BHS) is urgently appealing to the general public to write to their MP to ensure the safety needs of equestrians are not forgotten in the Highway Code Review.
It comes as Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, suggested in a Commons debate on road safety this week that the Dutch Reach could be added to the Highway Code to protect vulnerable road users. The manoeuvre forces drivers to look over their shoulder before opening a vehicle door – giving them the chance to spot cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.
Alan Hiscox, director of safety for the BHS, said: “We’d like to say a big thank-you to all our members that have written to their MP. We’re really pleased horse and carriage drivers were mentioned in the road safety debate in Parliament, along with our Dead Slow campaign.”
To date, according to BHS statistics, 237 horses and 40 riders have been killed as a result of their injuries following a road incident. Some 899 horses have been injured and 85 per cent of these incidents are because drivers pass too fast or too close.
Mr Hiscox added: “Now is a crucial time for constituents to write to their MP to urge them to raise the question as to why the needs of equestrians were not referenced in the proposed review.
“To improve the safety of all vulnerable road users it is vital that MPs ask that consideration is given to review and strengthen the wording of Section 163 (Overtaking) and Section 215 (Horse riders and horsedrawn vehicles).
“The advice and guidance should not only explain why drivers should take extra care and slow down when passing horses but also the conse- quences of passing too close and too fast.”
Speaking in the debate, Mr Norman said he expected changes to be made to driving lessons and the Highway Code to stop drivers acting dangerously. The minister said more than 14,000 consultation responses had been received about how to make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
“We’re still carefully analysing all contributions but some trends have already emerged,” he explained.
“One of those, and it bears very much on the concerns about horse riders, is the fear of being closepassed, which is extremely scary, so working to tackle that dangerous behaviour is one of the themes in our response.
“We will be reviewing parts of the Highway Code, which will not only highlight how to avoid the dangers of close-passing but also encourage people to adopt the Dutch Reach. This is a method of opening the door with the hand furthest from the handle to force drivers to look over their shoulder for passing traffic.”
Mr Norman said the benefit of making these changes would make roads safer for all users and encourage people to see walking and cycling as “the natural choice” instead of driving short distances.
The minister added he hoped the changes would be launched before the end of this year.
“We’re in the middle of a safety review of cycling and walking and other vulnerable road users generally, including horse riders,” he said.
A template email is currently available via the British Horse Society website. A downloadable version is also available. Contact details of your local MP can be found at the website www.parliament.uk/mpslords-and-offices/mps/