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Road Safety Awareness Week for Horse Riders Too

Road Safety Awareness Week for Horse Riders Too

As winter approaches more riders will take to the roads to avoid riding in wet and muddy paddocks, and because club grounds, parks and trails close. NZ Horse Network urges all motorists to use road safety awareness week to take a refresher course on driving safely around horses on the roads, and is encouraging riders to report bad driving.

Today’s motorists and cyclists are mainly urban based and therefore less familiar with the road rules and etiquette for dealing with stock, or horses on the roads, than previous generations of drivers. “Horse Sense on the Roads” website aims to re-educate road users on how to drive safely when meeting horse riders, and offers riders a way to report bad driving.

Horse traffic is not restricted to quiet rural roads. Many towns and cities have lifestyle areas with high horse ownership on the periphery, and roads with high speed limits running through them. Drivers must be aware of, and able to give way to animals on the road at all times. “Horses, cycles, and pedestrians are all entitled to use the road system, alongside vehicles.” says Vivien Dostine from the NZ Horse Network.

The road code clearly states that drivers must slow down when approaching a horse, but many drivers don't understand that slow down means they must do more than just taking the foot slightly off the accelerator. Drivers may be charged with careless or dangerous driving, if they are not careful around horses .

Collisions between a horse and vehicle are thankfully rare here so far, but when they do occur they can result in serious injuries and deaths to the people involved, and inevitably the horse dies. “One of the problems for horse riders is the lack of ability to report drivers. Its very difficult to get details of a vehicle when you're busy dealing with a frightened horse” says Viv. “We've certainly received anecdotal evidence of riders being clipped by buses, or vehicle mirrors. That's way too close. It is an indicator that we may be heading in the same direction as the UK where horse vs vehicle collisions, injury and deaths are sadly more common.”

“Horse Sense on the Roads” website now offers an online road incident reporting form. The intention is to collect data on the number of near misses, and poor driving behaviour from riders regardless of whether they have vehicle details. This will help to reveal the real statistics on horse road safety.

Riders are encouraged to wear hi-viz, take a mobile phone with them, and if possible attach a helmet cam for all road rides. The police *555 service should be used for all serious driving complaints when vehicle registration is known. The “Report and Incident” form on the “Horse Sense on the Roads” will collect info from all incidents and use this data to lobby for safer roads.


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