A man has been disqualified from driving for 12 months and required to take an extended test of competence before he can return to the wheel, after he collided with a horse and rider earlier this year. The horse was put down at the roadside due to the extent of its injuries.

Seventy six-year-old Christopher John Wixey of Banbury Street, Kineton, was also fined £540 after appearing at Coventry Crown Court on 22 September, charged with causing serious injury by careless/inconsiderate driving on 2 January 2023. He had earlier pleaded guilty on 4 August.

The charges related to a collision with a horse and rider on 2 January. Wixey had been driving along Tysoe Road, Kineton, when he claimed to have been blinded by the low sun. Kingston Police stated he continued along the road without adjusting his driving for the conditions before colliding with the back of a horse being ridden by its owner.

The horse suffered serious injuries to its hind legs and hindquarters, and subsequently had to be put to sleep by vets at the roadside. The rider was injured to the extent it was deemed it amounted to grievous bodily harm.

“Christopher Wixey drove in a careless and inconsiderate way and this is reflected in the sentence,” said PC Adam Fletcher. “As well as the loss of her horse, the rider suffered significant injuries both physical and psychological as a result of this collision and we hope this will offer her some closure today.

“We are taking this opportunity to remind drivers that they should always drive according to the conditions. This often means slowing down and expecting the unexpected on rural roads where there may be horses, cyclists and pedestrians enjoying the countryside. These road users are vulnerable and all drivers are expected to always take extra care to pass them safely.”

Reporting incidents

Alan Hiscox, Safety Director of The British Horse Society (BHS) commented on the case.

“This is the sort of incident we dread hearing about and why we are working hard to improve road safety for all equestrians,” he said. “We already work closely with Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership on a number of road safety initiatives and will continue to do so.

“Incidents involving horses on our roads are under reported both to the police and The British Horse Society, so to give us a better picture we are asking equestrians to use the BHS Horse i app to report incidents regardless of severity. This gives the BHS and road safety partners more information to be able to focus our resources where they are really needed, in order to best support equestrians.”

Members of the public can also report and submit digital footage showing potential moving traffic offences such as dangerous or careless driving via Op Snap. The evidence will be reviewed by a road traffic police officer. Visit www.warwickshire.police.uk/OperationSnap

‘Always be on the lookout’

Carol Cotterill of Warwickshire Horse Watch/Warwickshire Rural Crime Team said the case highlights how careful drivers need to be on rural roads, all of the time.

The Highway Code was updated in 2022 and is now specific about what drivers and motorcyclists need to do to safely pass horses – slow down to a maximum of 10mph, be patient, do not sound your horn or rev the engine and only when safe to do so, pass the horse wide and slow (2 metres minimum if possible) and drive slowly away,” she said.

“Riders have to use rural roads for a number of reasons, so we are asking other road users to always be on the lookout for them and to be ready to slow down and stop if you need to. Never be tempted to ‘squeeze’ past a horse on the road as they are large and by passing them too closely or too fast you are risking your own life as well as the lives of the horse and rider or carriage driver.”

Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership is working with partners including the BHS and Project Edward to improve road safety for equestrians. This includes creating educational road safety videos, Dead Slow boards for livery yards, equestrian Op Snap leaflets, fluorescent tabards and regular equestrian road safety campaigns.

More details of the Op Snap initiative and how equestrians can engage with the scheme will follow on yourhorse.co.uk later this week.

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