Horse rider highlights road safety issue

Published in the North Devon Journal on April 16th 2015

IMG_9225A North Devon hairdresser based in Braunton has issued a plea for car drivers to slow down, and show more courtesy to horse riders on the road.

Sue Johnson, 41 has suffered several incidents involving inconsiderate motorists whilst out riding her horse, and feels now that the issue must be highlighted.

Sue, who was based at Chivenor Riding Stables said: “It’s people driving too fast and being impatient, just a general lack of consideration really. It’s a regular occurrence to have abuse shouted at you and finger gestures.

“The vast majority of drivers are courteous and patient.  The problem seems to worsen during summer months due to, in my opinion, motorists avoiding congestion on main roads and diverting onto country lanes but still driving at the same pace.”

Despite wearing hi-vis vests and hat covers and using appropriate hand signals asking motorists to slow down, she indicated that incidents of near misses and horses being dangerously frightened on our country roads remains.

However, one North Devon man who did not wish to be named said: “We all know they have a right to be on the road… but on ever more crowded roads – is it sensible?”

Tasha Clarke, 21 from Kentisbury, also complained about car drivers swearing at her and shouting abuse. She also said that an ambulance had driven past her on a quiet country road with blue lights and sirens in operation, which could have easily spooked the horse.

In response, Melanie Glanville of South Western Ambulance Service said, that because of the high hedges and blind blends on these types of roads, it is “imperative in such situations to have audible warnings sounding.”

Horses and their riders are part and parcel of life in here the Westcountry, and the issue is set to become worse as more and more cars appear on our already seasonally congested roads.

Lloyd Harvey-Bryant, a Sales Negotiator from Barnstaple said: “Horses are unpredictable, …so you have to slow down for them because you never know what they are going to do.”

Ms Johnson concluded, “Horses have as much right to use public highways as any other road users, such as runners, cyclists etc.  In an ideal world no one would want to use roads to ride their horses on.”

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