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Will the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 provide protection to horse riders?

The new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 came into force on 5 July. It creates a new offence of causing serious injury by careless, or inconsiderate, driving. The offence has a maximum sentence, on indictment, of two years’ imprisonment. 

Serious injury is defined as physical harm which amounts to grievous bodily harm and is likely to include visual disfigurement, for example orthopaedic fractures, fractured skull or psychiatric injury. 

Often, it will mean life-changing and permanent injuries for the injured party.   

How has the law changed?

Before the changes came in, a driver could be convicted of careless or inconsiderate driving which only had a maximum penalty of a fine. I have represented many individuals including horse riders who have been injured, and sometimes sadly lost their horse because of injury. 

They and their families have been shocked at the limit of the sentence imposed bearing in mind the injuries sustained and the impact this has had on their day to day activities and life. 

Highway Code changes

The recent changes to The Highway Code provide additional protection for vulnerable road users including horse riders. There is specific advice for vehicles when passing horse riders including allowing at least two metres of space and passing at speeds under 10 miles per hour. This may be relevant to the application of the new offence in circumstances where horse riders are injured on the road. 


I welcome the new offence of causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving that may be considered in these circumstances. Time will tell as to whether the increased sentencing powers and new offence will deter dangerous or careless drivers and encourage road users to be more considerate around horse riders on the road.  However, the availability of the new increased sentencing powers can only be a positive step.

Whilst increased sentencing powers may not assist in improving rider and road safety immediately, the availability of the sentencing powers may help in the long-term to reduce the current trend of an increase in horse-related incidents on the road which are being reported to the British Horse Society. 

Its statistics sadly have confirmed that double the incidents were reported to the society during 2021 in comparison to previous records. Together with campaigns led by the British Horse Society urging drivers to humanise horse riders and also to educate horse riders and other road users about the vulnerability of this cohort of road user, is a positive move in improving the safety of horse riders and other road users.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting horse riders injured on the roads at our dedicated horse riding injuries section. More on how we support other road users who are injured can be found at our serious injury section