The Highway Code is making several changes, coming into effect from the 29th of January. The new regulations have been adapted to improve the safety of people walking, cycling, and riding horses. Before taking a horse on the road, the Highway Code should be consulted to make sure you are abiding by the rules and making things as safe as you can for yourself and other road users.
The British Horse Society released statistics in 2021, stating that there were 1,010 road incidents involving horses that have been reported to the BHS. Of these incidents, 46 horses were killed and 118 were injured. 130 people were injured due to these road accidents, with 43% of riders being victims of road rage or abuse. 80% of these incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too close to the horse, and 41% of the incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly.
Thanks to the efforts of countless equestrians nationwide, particularly those involved in the Pass Wide and Slow event and the British Horse Society’s Dead Slow campaign, the government has taken action in response to the above statistics and implemented new rules as part of the highway code to protect both horses and riders.
What is the Highway Code?
The Highway Code is a code of rules that governs the use of public roads that must be adhered to by all vehicles and road users.
Is the Highway Code law?
Many of the Highway Code rules are legal requirements and as such, the Highway Code should be read by everyone.
Is the Highway Code for horse riders as well as drivers?
The new Highway Code considers equestrians and cyclists equal in the hierarchy of road users.
New driving rules for passing horses on the road
- You may cross a double white line (providing the road is clear) when overtake someone cycling or riding a horse, if they are travelling at 10mph or less (rule 129).
- When passing horses on the road or horse-drawn vehicles at speeds below 10mph, there must be at least 2 meters of space. This distance has increased from 1.5 meters to 2 meters.
- If it is unsafe, you must wait behind and not overtake.
- When slowing down to pass riders, drivers must slow down to 10mph. Previously it was 15mph.
Aside from the new rules, there are some rules that will be staying the same for riders. Rule 48 indicates that safety equipment and clothing must be worn by all riders. And horse-drawn vehicles must have two red rear reflectors.
Rule 49 indicates that children under the age of 14 must wear a helmet that complies with regulations. It must also be securely fastened.
Rule 50 dictates that riders should wear boots or shoes with hard soles and heels. As well as light-coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight, and reflective clothing if you are riding at night.
Rule 51 states that when riding at night, several pieces of reflective gear must be worn: a light which shows white to the front and red to the rear, reflective clothing must be worn by the rider and reflective bands must be worn on the horse and their tale.
Rule 52 states that all tack must fit the horse, nervous horses should be carefully minded, and a horse should never be ridden on the road without a saddle and bridle.
Rule 53 covers road etiquette for riders:
- Keep to the left
- Keep both hands on the reins unless signalling
- A horse must only carry one person
- You must not carry anything that may affect balance or control
- Move in the direction of the traffic
- Never ride more than two abreast, and single file on narrow/busy roads.
What the New Highway Code means for horses & horse riders
There are several added benefits to the new Highway Code rules for horses and horse riders. The new rules place riders and cyclists equal to motor vehicles on the road hierarchy and therefore give riders equal rights to the road.
Additionally, the decrease in passing speed (was 15mph, now decreased to 10mph) should help reduce the number of accidents on the road due to cars passing by too quickly. Of the incidents reported, 80% were due to a driver’s rage. This new legislation is a huge step for riders and their improved safety on the road.
The distance that vehicles are allowed to pass riders has also increased from 1.5m to 2m. This, coupled with the decreased passing speed should give riders some additional comfort when riding on the road and is designed to make the roads safer for riders and horses.
How to keep safe with a horse on the road
When riding on the road riders should adhere to the Highway Code for their safety, their horse’s safety, and other vehicle’s safety. Above are rules 49-53 for the safety of riders.
Riders should always wear reflective clothing, with lights (white facing front and red to the rear) where applicable. Children under the age of 14 must wear a secured helmet and all riders must ensure that their horse’s tack is secure and fitting correctly. No rider can ride on the road without a saddle and bridle.
Riding and road safety training
If you are unsure of the correct road safety procedures as a rider, it is recommended to first read the Highway Code for legislation. For more information or training, the British Horse Society (BHS) publishes a lot of information on road safety. Including the Pathways training. https://pathways.bhs.org.uk/why-the-bhs/latest-news/ride-safe-with-the-british-horse-society/
Roadsafety.scot has also published a guide on safer horse riding when on the road. https://roadsafety.scot/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/HorseRidingLeaflet.pdf
Your local equestrian centre should also have some relevant literature or training course information if you enquire. Additionally, some colleges and institutions may also offer training courses, but this will vary and should be researched.
The Highway Code has adapted for horses and riders, but precautions should still be taken when riding. At Techalogic, we manufacture innovative video recording technology for equestrians to make their journeys as safe as possible by capturing valuable evidence if there were to be an accident, while also recording any compelling footage you may want to savour from your riding.
The DC-1 Dual lens helmet camera works by fitting to your helmet and recording both the front and rear as you ride.
The XV-1 2K QHD helmet camera is another fantastic choice. It works by clipping to the side of the helmet and gives riders additional peace of mind that in the event of the accident, they will have adequate footage captured in 2K HD @ 30 frames per second, or Full 1080p HD @ 60 frames per second.
Our CR-1 Rear light has an integrated full HD wide-angle camera perfect for recording. It offers 60 lumens and 6 light modes to ensure maximum visibility. The camera also has a G sensor that automatically begins recording in the event of an accident. It is part of the Highway Code that riders who ride at night must have a red rear light and white front-facing light.
The CF-1 Front light functions the same as the above but is designed for front use with white coloured light. Both cameras record in Full 1080p HD for crystal clear footage while riding.
We also offer some reflective helmets and chest harnesses for riders. Perfect for staying visible in the day or night. See more in our accessories.
If you have any further questions about the cameras and equipment on offer and how they can help protect you while horse riding, please do not hesitate to contact us.