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Petition Highway Code Rules 163 and 215 to be made law. Pass horses wide and slow.

I am calling on the Secretary of State for Transport to make the following rules in the Highway Code actual laws:
Section 163 - Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so.
Section 215 - Horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles pass wide and slow max 15mph and abide to our stop slow, signal

More details

The British Horse Society statistics show that from November 2010 to March 2019 of the 3,737 incidents reported to them there was 315 horses killed and 43 humans killed on our roads. (NB: These are only incidents reported directly to the BHS.)

The BHS recommends that vehicles should not pass horses at more than 15mph and no closer than a car width.

There have been far too many incidents on the road including deaths both equine and human. Many of these deaths are the result of drivers driving at an inappropriate speed and too closely. The number of prosecutions at court does not reflect the seriousness of driving in such a manner.

Making rules 163 and 215 of the highway code law would give more power to the police and the courts to prosecute in these cases

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Government responded

This response was given on 21 April 2020

The Government has no plans to make Highway Code Rules 163 and 215 laws. The Highway Code already has sufficient rules in place that means drivers can be prosecuted if they put horse riders in danger

All road users are required to comply with road traffic law, in the interests of their own safety and that of other road users. If road users do not adopt a responsible attitude or if their use of the highway creates an unsafe environment, or causes nuisance, they may be committing a number of offences that can make them liable for prosecution. The offences include: driving dangerously; driving without due care and attention; and driving without reasonable consideration for other road users – as set out in Rule 144 of The Highway Code*.

Although The Highway Code does not itself create additional legal rights and obligations, it can be used as evidence when penalising drivers for road traffic offences. Failure to observe The Highway Code’s provisions may invoke penalties that can range from being fined, given penalty points on the licence, or being disqualified from driving. For more serious cases of disobeying these rules, offending drivers may be liable to criminal proceedings; in the most serious cases, they may be sent to prison.

Enforcement of the law is a matter for the police who will decide on the evidence of each individual case, whether an offence has been committed and the appropriate action to take.

The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy ('CWIS') Safety Review Call for Evidence**, published in March 2018, aimed to gather information on how to tackle the safety issues that cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders face, or perceive, when travelling on our roads. It generated a huge response, with over 14,000 people taking part. A testament to the fact that we are a nation that has a passion for cycling, walking and horse riding.

The subsequent Government response*** to the call for evidence set out a two-year plan of action to address the key themes and issues raised. One of the top priorities identified by major stakeholders was to review the guidance in The Highway Code to improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, with an emphasis on the hierarchy of road users, and on overtaking and close passing.

The Department for Transport has been working with key stakeholders, including the British Horse Society, to conduct a review of The Highway Code to improve the guidance to help keep vulnerable road users safe on the roads and make sure they are at the forefront of motorists’ minds when they are travelling. As part of this, we are considering amending Rules 163 and 215 to include specified safe passing speeds and distances for drivers when overtaking horses and horse-drawn vehicles. The final changes will be determined following a consultation on the proposed changes that is planned for later this year.

* https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code
**https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/686419/cwis-safety-review-call-for-evidence.pdf
***https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/758519/cycling-walking-investment-strategy-safety-review.pdf

Department for Transport

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300122)

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Original Government Response

The Government is carrying out a review of the guidance in The Highway Code to improve safety for vulnerable road users and a consultation on the proposed changes is planned for later this year.

The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy ('CWIS') Safety Review Call for Evidence*, published in March 2018, aimed to gather information on how to tackle the safety issues that cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders face, or perceive, when travelling on our roads. It generated a huge response, with over 14,000 people taking part. A testament to the fact that we are a nation that has a passion for cycling, walking and horse riding.

The subsequent Government response** to the call for evidence set out a two-year plan of action to address the key themes and issues raised. One of the top priorities identified by major stakeholders was to review the guidance in The Highway Code to improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, with an emphasis on the hierarchy of road users, and on overtaking and close passing.

Although The Highway Code does not itself create additional legal rights and obligations, it can be used as evidence when penalising drivers for road traffic offences. Failure to observe The Highway Code’s provisions may invoke penalties that can range from being fined, given penalty points on the licence, or being disqualified from driving. For more serious cases of disobeying these rules, offending drivers may be liable to criminal proceedings; in the most serious cases, they may be sent to prison.

The Department for Transport has been working with key stakeholders, including the British Horse Society, to conduct a review of The Highway Code to improve the guidance to help keep vulnerable road users safe on the roads and make sure they are at the forefront of motorists’ minds when they are travelling.

A consultation on the proposed changes is planned for later this year.
*https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/686419/cwis-safety-review-call-for-evidence.pdf
**https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/758519/cycling-walking-investment-strategy-safety-review.pdf

Department for Transport.

This response was given on 19 March 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

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