Operation raises awareness of importance of passing horses wide and slow

Officers PCSOs staff and volunteers including Lynda and Murphy the horse Op Close Pass 21 Sept 23 with Dead SLow

Ten per cent of drivers passed a horse and rider either too fast or too close is the result of an Operation Close Pass for horses that took place on Thursday 21 September 2023 on Smeaton Lane in Brinklow.  This is despite the horse and rider duo being accompanied by a PCSO on a bicycle and all parties wearing hi vis. 

The Operation was designed to actively target motorists who ignore Highway Code rules on how to safely pass equestrians on the road.

During the two-hour Operation approximately 45 vehicles passed a horse and rider (followed by a police cyclist equipped with a video camera) on Smeaton Lane to look out for motorists who passed them too fast or too close.   Whilst the majority passed the horse and rider safely leaving at least 2metres and slowing to approximately 10mph or less, officers intercepted four motorists who did not comply with the Highway Code.

These motorists were pulled aside and given words of advice by officers about their driving and provided with information on the requirement, produced by the British Horse Society.  

The Highway Code is now specific about what drivers need to do to safely pass horses:-

  • Slow down to a maximum of 10mph
  • Be patient, and do not sound a horn or rev the engine
  • When safe to do so, pass the horse wide and slow (2 metres minimum if possible)
  • Drive slowly away

The operation coincides with both the Rural Crime Week of Action (18-24 Sept) and the National Police Chief Council Vulnerable Road Users Campaign that aims to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and motorcyclists.

Carol Cotterill, Warwickshire Police Rural Crime Team said “Our aim is to educate road users so they know how to safely pass horses on the roads.  It’s important the many equestrians in Warwickshire feel as safe as possible on our roads and we chose Smeaton Lane, Brinklow due to the many local horse riders who use it who have contacted us to express their safety concerns about vehicles passing them too close or too fast.

“As well as slowing down to 10mph and allowing 2m when passing horses on the roads, our advice to drivers on rural roads is to expect the unexpected around the next corner – there could be a horse and rider, a cyclist or a pedestrian.  There may also be oncoming traffic.  Please slow down and be ready to pass vulnerable road users wide and slow.

“Although not in the Highway Code, we cannot stress enough how much the hi vis worn by the horse, rider and cyclist improved their visibility.  During the operation we also visited stable yards to hand out high visibility tabards and Operation Snap cards to encourage riders to report moving traffic offences such as dangerous or careless driving to the police, plus information about The BHS Horsei incident reporting app and Warwickshire Horse Watch.

“We are also very grateful to Lynda, a Police Mounted Volunteer, and her horse Murphy for their help in the Operation, both of whom have passed the BHS Road Safety test.“

Following the success of the operation – Warwickshire Police’s first equine Op Close Pass, confirmed it will be the first of many. 

Emma Daniell, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire said “Warwickshire is a largely rural county where many people enjoy outdoor activities such as horse riding.  This is why as a partnership it is important we support equestrians to improve their safety on the roads in the same way we do other road users.  Op Close Pass can do just that by helping educate the public around the Highway Code and Hierarchy of road users to help ensure they always pass horses safely.”

For more information please visit our website www.warksroadsafety.org or follow us on Facebook @WarwickshireRoadSafety and on Twitter @WarksRoadSafety

You can also follow Warwickshire Rural Crime Team on Facebook @WarwickshireRuralCrimeTeam and on Twitter @WarksRoadSafety

Notes for Editors

Other initiatives to improve road safety for equestrians include:-

  • Distributed Dead Slow Boards to livery yards Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership (WRSP) including The Rural Crime Team The British Horse Society and Warwickshire Horse Watch have distributed 59 Dead Slow  Boards to livery yards across the county. We are in the process of allocating a further 14, and keep one or two to help us explain the initiative at events such as horse shows and yard and venue visits.
  • Created equestrian road safety video clips WRSP has created three video clips to help raise awareness of the changes to the Highway Code for equestrians aimed at drivers safely passing horses, drivers safely passing horsedrawn carriages and information for equestrians on how to keep themselves and their horses as safe as possible whilst using the roads.
  • Project Edward With the support of the Project EDWARD film crew and the British Horse Society, WRSP created two videos to raise awareness of the changes to the Highway code and the educational resource “What’s on your Horizon.” The videos were filmed in July 2022 with support from Warwickshire Police Rural Crime team and Warwickshire Horse Watch.
  • Hi Vis items WRSP funded several High visibility items to be given to horse riders and other road users. Since 2022 over 200 items have been given out at livery yards across the county and at agricultural shows supported by the Warwickshire Police Rural Crime Team.  This has also been supported by crime prevention advice and equipment marking.
  • The British Horse Society Horsei app We know incidents involving horses on the roads are under reported and so we encourage equestrians to report incidents to The British Horse Society Horsei app to help us understand the true picture of what is happening.  This will help partners focus resources where they are really needed. 

Equestrian road safety video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXgjYcwgvbM

Drivers passing horses road safety video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd65eH_co34&t=3s

Drivers passing horsedrawn carriages Video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOkOo_juKSs

Project Edward videos:-

Highway code video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzDx7dnakjE

What’s on Your Horizon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Gbx87pfyTE