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Campaign launches to help keep vulnerable road users safe

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is raising awareness of how to safely pass a horse rider on a public road as part of a wider focus on vulnerable road users.

Road Policing Inspector Rosie Leech explains:

“Horses are large and powerful animals and can be unpredictable. A speeding car, loud music, or an engine being revved could easily frighten a horse and it will naturally want to get as far away as possible. This can make it extremely difficult for even an experienced rider to control the situation. A collision involving a vehicle and a horse can have devastating consequences for all involved.

“If you meet a horse on the road while driving then please consider the following:

· Slow right down, keep your distance and prepare to stop

· Avoid any actions that may spook the horse: do not rev you engine or sound your horn

· Watch out for signals from the rider

“When it is safe to do so, pass the rider slowly (15mph is the maximum recommended speed) and give the horse a wide berth – at least a car’s width which is about two meters. Many riders are children so please be patient and take extra care.

“Everyone who uses the road has a responsibility to do so safely. Riders will want to be easily seen and will usually wear hi-visibility clothing. Being considerate of every road user we meet will help keep everybody safe.”

Susan Spratt, British Horse Society Manager for Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland added:

“The British Horse Society Ireland is fully supportive of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Operation Pass Wide and Slow and we are delighted to see horse riders, as vulnerable road users, being recognised and supported in Northern Ireland.

“Drivers please be aware that riders are in tune with their horses and can feel whether they are unhappy – please slow down and stop if you are asked to do so by a horse rider – it is for everyone’s safety!”

Ulster University Lecturer Dr Wendy Saunderson, who is a regular horse-riding road user around the North Coast, explained:

“We use busy and potentially dangerous roads only through necessity, never by choice; often to get from one off-road area to another. Our road use is increased by Northern Ireland’s very limited number of dedicated bridle paths and horse trails.

“Despite the pleasures of hacking on smaller roads through our stunningly beautiful countryside, I’ve had a few terrifying ‘close shaves’ with cars and lorries - if drivers, horse riders and other vulnerable road users are better informed about road safety regulations and guidance, we can all share our public roads respectfully, happily and, above all, safely.”


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