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2nd Jul, 2022

West Mercia Police's 'Close Pass' scheme to protect horse riders on Worcestershire's roads

WEST Mercia Police is working with stables in a bid to give better protection to horse riders following the changes to the Highway Code which were introduced at the end of January.

High visibility vests have been supplied to a number of stables where riders use local roads.

A ‘Close Pass’ awareness scheme – similar to one previously done to target motorists driving too near to cyclists – has also been introduced.

Under the ‘Operation Snap’ drivers with dash cams can submit footage to the force if they capture other drivers getting too close to horses as they pass.

Horse riders are considered among the most vulnerable road users.

Since 2019, 22 collisions involving horses have been reported to West Mercia Police, many could have been avoided if road users shared the road more responsibly.

Changes to the Highway Code state motorists should pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10mph and allow at least two metres (6.5ft) of space.

Horse riders have the same right to be on the road as motorists, cyclists or any other user group and using the roads is sometimes a necessity for many horse riders.

Horses can be unpredictable and sensitive to sounds or sudden movement so motorists need to ensure they pass slowly and quietly and give at least two metres passing distance.

Alan Hiscox from the British Horse Society said: “I am very pleased the BHS was able to represent the equestrian community within the Department for Transport’s Highway Code stakeholder group to ensure that all equestrians were included in the changes.

“These new changes are a significant step forward for equestrian road safety making the roads safer for everyone.

“It is fantastic to see that West Mercia Police have several new initiatives to get the new Highway Code message out there in the local community.”

Supt Steph Brighton, from West Mercia Police, added: “Horse riding has always been popular within West Mercia due to our fantastic countryside and we have a number of stables in our policing area.

“We welcome the changes in the Highway Code that look to give more protection to those more vulnerable road users and we will do all we can to ensure the roads are made safer for all those that use them.

“Any road user who has footage of a close pass or any type of dangerous driving can submit this through our secure Operation

Snap portal and this will be viewed and actioned as appropriate.”

Click here for more on Operation Snap and to submit footage of dangerous driving.

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