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Minimizing road deaths: Drivers in the UK educated by police about overtaking horses

by Marie Arensmann
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In the British county of Sussex, drivers were getting pulled over by the police for not driving safely past a horse. This took place as part of a long-term project for greater safety on British roads. 

In partnership with the British Horse Society (BHS), Sussex Police hosted the first “Safe Pass” event on September 14. As part of the nationwide Project Edward (Every day without a road death), the aim is to educate the public about overtaking correctly to prevent accidents.

This event in particular was important because most of Sussex’s population lives in rural areas where many people ride bicycles, according to Katy Bourne, Sussex police and crime officer. She also stressed that this was a good opportunity to educate drivers on how to behave around horses and how to act responsibly in traffic.

Drivers who overtook horse incorrectly pulled over by police

As part of the project, BHS Safety Director Alan Hiscox rode a gelding named Dallas up and down the street in front of Plumpton College. While doing so, he was equipped with a body camera and a radio. This allowed him to report drivers who passed him inappropriately to two motor officers, who then escorted the drivers to the college. 

Once at the college, the drivers were getting arrested if necessary, but otherwise were educated about overtaking properly. They were shown videos of the consequences of unsafe overtaking and they were being told how and why to pass horses safely. According to Bourne, the shock of being pulled over itself helps with most law-abiding drivers. However, serious violations resulted in points on the driver’s license and a fine. 

Drivers receptive to education

All of the nine drivers who got pulled over during the event were receptive to the education. They all thought they were passing Dallas properly and shrugged when they watched the educational videos. 

One driver told the police, ‘It makes people like me more aware. In London, you don’t see many horses on the roads but this is something you need to know when you come off the beaten track.’.

Change in road traffic regulations to come into force soon

The planned change in road traffic regulations will require horses to be passed at a distance of at least two meters and at a maximum speed of 15km/h. The drivers who got pulled over during the project were informed that this change will soon come into force.

Overall, 99% of vehicles passed Hiscox and Dallas correctly and safely. The main problem Hiscox sees is that the majority of drivers does not want to hurt horses but simply does not know how to pass them properly. The job of the BHS and Sussex Police is now to get this message out.

Source: Horse&Hound

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