Mounted police officers undertake an operation in Doncaster village

Over the past two days officers from South Yorkshire Police’s Mounted Section and Roads Policing Group took their hooves and wheels to the road in a bid to educate drivers on how to pass a horse safely.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 6:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 8:24 pm

There are many types of road users and it’s important for everyone’s safety that we all respect each other and understand the needs each mode of transport requires, including those with four hooves

An initiative similar to Operation Safe Pass (used for cyclists) has been implemented to ensure drivers are passing horses safely while on the road. It also enables officers to ensure that those riding horses are not posing a risk to drivers.

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Mounted police spoke to drivers

Yesterday Mounted Officers PC Rachael Hodgkinson and PC Tracy Brown worked alongside Road Policing Sergeants Matt Duffy and Rob Jones to carry out an operation in Doncaster, around Fishlake, followed by the operation in Sheffield.

Officers were supported by Amy Clements from the British Horse Society (BHS); an equestrian charity dedicated to education and protection of horses.

According to the BHS one horse is involved in an incident on the UK’s roads every day and since the charity started recording statistics in 2010, over 40 riders have lost their lives on the roads.

Over the past two days, 35 drivers have been stopped and spoken to by officers.

Of the 35 drivers, 30 were spoken to about their poor driving, lack of awareness and space or overall behaviour while passing horses. Five drivers were also stopped and praised by officers for their actions.

Sergeant Matt Duffy explains more. He said: “Over the past two days mounted officers and our police horses have taken part in this operation, but it is important to remember that not all horses and riders are as experience as ours.

“Even the most well behaved horse can react in certain situations and unlike when passing a cyclist, there is an additional brain/reaction to take into consideration; horses can be unpredictable.

“As a driver adhering to laws and advice, you are not only keeping the horse and rider safe, but you are also keeping yourself safe; a horse or rider falling on to your car can have devastating consequences.

“Drivers need to provide as much space as possible when passing a horse, it is important that you slow down and keep your car as quiet as possible. Once you have passed the horse please remember to increase your speed slowly as you drive away.

“While driving on country roads, always think about what could be round the next bend and amend your driving accordingly.”

As a driver you may come across riders riding two abreast and not always in single file; this is often a tactic used by riders when training young and inexperienced horses.

Riders should also be familiar with the Highway Code and follow best practice for their safety including wearing high visibility clothing and ensuring your horse’s tack fits correctly, more for horse riders can be read here.

For more information about passing horses while driving please read more about the Dead Slow campaign.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.