UK Highway Code of Practice regulates and maintains the rules for animals in the road. The regulations also apply to operators of horse-drawn vehicles along with horse riders.
Examples of animals mentioned in the Highway Code include cattle, dogs, horses, ponies, deer, hedgehogs, some wild animals, and those being herded.
RULES 47-58: We refer to the standards maintained by the Department for Transport Highway Code of Practice for Great Britain.
They set out the regulations and guidelines for operating a horse-drawn vehicle or riding a horse.
The UK Highways Code also relates to the safety for horse riders. It places restrictions for other animals on public roads within the United Kingdom.
Requirements focus on a list of carriage and fittings safety checks for good working order. Even so, a Road Driving Assessment may be subject to the Local Authority for passenger-carrying services.
Rule 48: All vehicles pulled by a horse should display two red reflectors on the rear of the carriage. The law also states a light which is white at the front and red at the rear Must be fitted when driving a horse-drawn vehicle at night.
The Highway Code for horse riders states that, whenever possible, you should ride with other calm horses. This is especially important if you expect your horse to act 'nervously' around road traffic.
Note: Horse riders should always use a saddle and bridle. Read further information about the minimum level of driver competence and vehicle safety practices to use for driving horse-drawn vehicles.
Rule 56: Highway Code Dogs:
Rule 57:Make sure dogs, or any other animals, are 'suitably' restrained inside a vehicle. This will help to stop them distracting or injuring you while you are driving. It also reduces the likelihood of injuries for the dog if you need to bring the vehicle to an abrupt stop.
Note: There are several ways of restraining canines and other animals in a car. You can use a dog cage, a dog guard, seat belt harness, or a pet carrier.
The Department for Transport launched a new road sign in June 2019. The aim of the new hedgehog road sign is to improve road safety and to protect certain species of small animals.
The areas that will benefit most are those where accident rates are the highest. The new animal road sign warns road users of potential hazards due to small animals in the road.
Note: The short video from the Department for Transport announces the launching of a new warning sign for use in accident hotspots that involve small wild animals.
Rule 58: Animals being herded on public roads and highways:
Herded animals should always be kept under control on roads. Try to warn other road users by having someone a distance in front of the herd. This is especially pertinent at the brow of a hill or around a bend.
Moving a large herd of animals is often safer done at night time during darkness. If so, you should wear reflective clothing and carry lights. The lights should display white at the front and red at the rear of the herd.
Note: We also have an article with advice for motorists on how to avoid deer collisions while driving on country roads.
Animals in the Highway Code: A Guide for United Kingdom