MOTORISTS have been urged to use “common sense” when driving past horse riders in Northumberland as the county’s rural roads get busier.

The highway code says drivers should always pass horses “wide and slowly”, slowing down to a maximum of 10mph and allowing at least two metres of space.

However, according to campaigner Susan Beverley, some drivers pass her and other horse riders at speeds of up to 60mph – putting both rider and driver at risk.

Susan, who lives in Acklington, organised a Pass Wide and Slow awareness ride in the village on Sunday. The ride was just one of around 300 taking place across the country.

A large number of riders were in attendance, as well as Northumberland Labour leader Councillor Scott Dickinson and members of Togston Parish Council.

Susan said: “Drivers seem more aware of the changes in the highway code for pedestrians and cyclists. You should pass a horse at 10mph and at a distance of two metres.

“To most people, that’s common sense – but some people go past at 60. It’s frightening to be on the roads.

“You can report it to the police, but they need video footage. A good camera for that is around £200. The road between Acklington and Broomhill is one of the worst roads.”

In January, a horse was killed and its rider hospitalised after a collision on the roads in Darlington. And Susan, who has been riding horses since she was four years old, says that with parts of Northumberland getting busier than ever before due to tourism and development, the problem is only getting worse.

She continued: “There is nothing wrong with the roads, it is the people. All we can do is try our best to raise awareness to those changes in the highway code.

“There are lots more tourists and lots more new people living in the area. It’s so busy. Horse riding is my life – I have 11 horses and I love it.”

Cllr Dickinson, who represents the nearby Druridge Bay Ward, echoed the warnings about the county becoming increasingly busy,

He said: “I was thrilled to be invited to support the organisers of the pass-wide and slow event. Northumberland is becoming increasingly busy and we have a responsibility to our traditions and educating those who visit us as well as local people.

“Horses have been part of our culture and history for thousands of years, and I’m pleased to have supported this campaign with increased signage but we need to go further and wider across Northumberland.

“It’s important we do all we can so riders and drivers can coexist in a safe way and everyone can enjoy our beautiful county. It was a pleasure to meet all the riders and their horses along with on-foot supporters. Great to be accompanied by East Chevington Cllr John Shepherd and Togston Parish Councillor Susan Jeffries representing the Parishes of the ride.”