KEEPING safe is important for everyone on the roads, from pedestrians to cyclists to motorists. However, one group that often gets overlooked when it comes to road safety is horses and horse riders.

This is extremely dangerous for both horses and their riders, and sadly sometimes fatal, too.

Horse and Country TV are here this Road Safety Week (November 19-25) to share their advice for driving around horses safely.

Learn the highway code changes

The changes in the Highway Code relating to horses and horse riders include the following:

• Prior guidance instructed drivers to overtake horses slowly and give plenty of space, but the Code has become more specific: give two metres of space when overtaking and do so at no more than 10mph.

• Drivers are advised not to beep their horn or rev their engines around horses.

• When encountering a horse on the roundabout, the Code says that drivers should keep to the left all the way around until they reach their exit, and be careful not to cut in front of them.

• Horses should be treated as potential hazards as they can be unpredictable.

Slow down

Horses have a much keener sense of hearing than humans, and they can hear low to high frequencies ranging from 14Hz to 25 kHz.

Therefore, they are much more likely to hear and react to the sounds of a car. It’s essential that drivers reduce their speed and remain patient.

Give them space

Horses have 350-degree vision. Horses can often be easily spooked by things in their eyeline, which can be dangerous when they are being ridden. It’s essential that car drivers give horses enough space.

Understand rider signals

Sometimes a rider may signal to communicate the best thing to do as you approach. When turning left, a rider will extend their left hand outwards, straight, at 90 degrees. For a right turn, they will do the same with their right hand. If a rider’s hand is held outwards towards the middle of the road and they are waving it up and down, they may be trying to ask you to slow down. Take heed and reduce your speed.

Be extra cautious at night

You should be cautious of horses on the road at any time of day, but this is especially the case when it’s getting darker in the evenings.

Be respectful

It’s important for the safety of both yourself and others to be respectful of every other road user, including horse riders. When you come across a horse rider on the road, stay respectful by being patient.