Skip to main content

Horse Riders: Public Highways

Volume 654: debated on Thursday 14 February 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the question of the safety needs of horse riders. They were an important part, alongside other vulnerable road users, of the cycling and walking safety review. We are reviewing the highway code, and our work on that will be done in connection with a whole range of interested stakeholders, including the British Horse Society.

The rise of electric vehicles is, of course, environmentally welcome. However, their silence often presents a huge problem for riders, horses and, indeed, other road users as a result of the nervousness that is often caused in horses by these silent vehicles either going past or accelerating from a stop. Will my hon. Friend take this issue up with the car manufacturers to see what can be done to ensure that there is safety and environmentalism on our rural roads?

My hon. Friend will recall that I have already discussed the recognition of horse riders within the highway code and the importance that we place on the avoidance of close passing. He will also be aware that electric cars make a noise above a certain speed because of vehicle tyre slap. At low speeds, vehicle type approval regulations will mandate sound generators on new electric and hybrid electric vehicles from July this year.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Horses and HGV lorries do not mix, so what consideration has been given to enhanced regulations with reference to horse safety, particularly to providing adequate guidance and protection for horse riders?

I cannot really do more than expand on my previous comment, which is that we are reviewing the highway code in this area and are working closely on issues of close passing. They are discussed in some detail in our recent cycling and walking safety review.