Clock changes and protective high-visibility clothing
The clocks went back at the weekend, affording a precious additional hour of sleep, but also drawing in the dark evenings. Sadly, this also means an increase in the number of accidents on our roads. However, we can all take steps to ensure that we remain as safe as we can when venturing out to exercise or socialise after dark.
For joggers and walkers, this will probably mean reflective clothing and a sensible route which is well lit, clearly marked, and safe. Horse riders and dog walkers also need to change to a winter wardrobe. Dog owners should ensure that their beloved pets are visible as well as warm and dry. Leads, coats and flashing bands or lights to attach to a collar or clothing are effective ways to ensure that your dog is visible to all other road users and also easy to spot should they wander off.
Horse riders also need to make adjustments where they hack close to, or on, public roads and paths. Aside from hats and boots, which should be worn at all times, it's important that riders also wear appropriate clothing to increase visibility and promote safety.
Hacking is usually close to a stables or yard, but routes can frequently include rural roads, which are often narrow, and lined with hedges or trees, which reduce visibility for riders, drivers and cyclists. Whilst most sensible drivers will anticipate traffic or riders and slow down, some don’t, even where signs warn of the presence of horse riders in the area.
Wearing high-visibility clothing whilst riding is a legal requirement under the Highway Code. Riders should wear light coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and reflective clothing at night, though it's always safer not to ride in poor visibility. Clocks go forward by one hour in Spring and back an hour in Autumn, which often means that early morning hacks or rides after work take place in poor light. Even in daylight hours, poor weather can severely reduce visibility.
Under the Highway Code horses should also wear a reflective band on their legs. A little-known requirement is that riders should also display a light showing white to the front and red to the rear, like motor vehicles. The light should be attached to the rider’s arm and/or leg or riding boot. It's also strongly recommended that a fluorescent or reflective tail guard is worn by the horse.
Bright clothing and lights can also display helpful messaging reminding drivers and cyclists to give a wide berth when passing a horse and to decrease their speed as they do so.
It's important that riders, like all other road users, take responsibility to promote their own safety and that of their horse and others by adhering to the Highway Code to make our roads safer for everyone.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people following road traffic collisions at the dedicated section on our website.