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Petition Make driving safely around horses a mandatory part of the driving test

Make it part of the driving test to test drivers on how they would approach any situation involving a horse, ridden or loose. If they do not show they know how to safely do so this should be deemed a serious or dangerous fault, and they should not be given their license.

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People’s lives can be put at risk when drivers do not know how to drive safely around horses. We must do something to prevent horses getting hit and killed, riders to be injured and cars wrecked.

Drivers need to be better educated on how to drive around horses. The roads are too often not safe for anyone not in a vehicle and unless something is done it could get worse. If we ensure drivers are tested on how to drive safely around horses then at least we’ve tried.

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Government responded

This response was given on 20 May 2021

Driving safely around horses is covered in the theory and hazard perception test. All candidates are assessed on awareness, anticipation and planning skills, which are needed if driving around horses.

The topic of driving safely around horses is covered in the theory test and hazard perception test. A number of questions in the car theory test directly ask about horse riders.

In September 2020, theory test case studies were replaced with video clips, one of which involves an encounter with a ridden horse. There are also several available hazard perception clips relating to horses.

Every candidate is assessed on their ability to show awareness, anticipation and planning skills during the practical driving test by demonstrating how they deal with all road users they encounter during their test, which may include horses, vulnerable road users, smaller vehicles and cyclists.

The practical driving test is conducted in a live environment; therefore, it is not possible for every candidate to experience a situation involving driving around horses. If a candidate does encounter a horse while on test, their ability to deal with the situation will be assessed. If they fail to deal with it appropriately, an assessment is made on how far from the expected outcome the candidate was.

In December 2017, changes were made to the practical driving test that allowed for test routes to go further afield and take in more high speed and high-risk roads, particularly country roads and rural locations. As these areas are more likely to contain horses, the opportunity to encounter a horse on test has increased.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has worked with The British Horse Society, and, in 2020, the Government consulted the public on changes to The Highway Code to improve the guidance on sharing the roads with cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. The aim is to introduce an updated Highway Code in 2021 that will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. The Highway Code is a source for national driving standards and all future driving theory and practical tests.

Department for Transport

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