A motorist has been convicted following a collision with a horse and a teenager rider in Flintshire.
Alex Martin, 33, of Pen y Maes Avenue, Rhyl, appeared before Mold Magistrates Court on Monday, October 17th charged with driving without due care and attention.
He was found guilty of the incident that happened on St Asaph Road, Lloc, Flintshire – a 30mph road – at around 8am on February 24th, earlier this year.
The 13-year-old rider, who was wearing a high visibility jacket while out with her pony at the time, sustained minor injuries as a result of the collision.
However, the horse was sadly put down some weeks later following a hairline fracture, believed to have been caused when the horse bolted in reaction to the collision.
Martin was issued six penalty points on his driving licence, ordered to pay a £250 fine, £620 costs to the Crime Prosecution Service and a surcharge amount of £34.
The incident came weeks after amendments were made to the highway code in January, which includes advice to drivers to pass horses at no more than 10mph and to keep a minimum of a two meters distance.
Helen Lacey, Police Service Volunteer and coordinator for the charity North Wales Horse Watch, said: “I welcome the result of this case, which sends a clear message that incidents of this nature are taken seriously by the courts.
Changes to the Highway Code highway code advises drivers to pass horses at no more than 10mph and to keep a two meter distance
“Following changes to the highway code earlier this year, equestrians are now classed equal to cyclists in the new hierarchy of road users, which is designed to protect the most vulnerable and improve safety for horses and their handlers.
“If you see a horse in the road, you should slow down to a maximum of 10mph, be patient and pass the horse wide and slow, with at least a two-metre gap, before driving slowly away.
“Driving carefully, particularly around bends on narrow roads, will help you spot horses and riders in time and react safely.
“Recent funding by the Welsh Government to improve road signage in hotspot areas across North Wales will also hopefully improve road safety for equestrians out riding in the community.”
Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society (BHS) said: “This is a great result for the young rider and a positive step towards improving equine road safety.
“However, the number of road incidents with horses remain far too high. In Wales, a total of 237 incidents were reported to the BHS during 2021; this is an increase of 234% compared to the previous year.”
Earlier this year, a joint road safety initiative aimed at raising awareness of recent amendments to the highway code around passing horses was held by North Wales Police in partnership with North Wales Horse Watch and the British Horse Society.
Operation Safe Pass took place at Bridlewood Riding Centre in Holywell, Flintshire, and saw officers from the Rural Crime Team, Roads Policing Unit and Community Safety accompanying horse riders out on the roads, while stopping road users to issue guidance and raise awareness of how to safely pass horses.
Mr Hiscox, added: “We continue to urge drivers to be more considerate when passing equestrians, as well as think about how they look at and empathise with the horse and rider. It’s important to remember horses are flight animals that can react quickly when startled and even the most experienced of horses can suddenly react to something they are unsure of.
“To ensure their safety, and in line with the Highway Code changes, drivers should slow down to a maximum of 10mph when they see a horse on the road, be patient and not sound their horn or rev the engine, overtaking only when it’s safe to do so, and leaving at least two metres width if possible.
“If drivers follow these simple behavioural messages and both riders and drivers show patience to one another whilst sharing the roads, we can improve road safety for all vulnerable users in order to prevent incidents such as this one from happening in the future.”
Operation Safe Pass saw officers stopping road users to issue guidance and raise awareness of how to safely pass horses