Richard McKenzie, senior programmes officer in the county council’s highways department, received the accolade for his work producing signs designed to help drivers understand how to safely pass horses and riders.
The awards citation read: ‘Richard has recognised that equestrians are vulnerable road users and as such has gone the extra mile to support British Horse Society (BHS) Northumberland committee’s campaign for safer roads on two projects.
‘Firstly, Richard supported a proposal to erect a Pegasus crossing to ensure that all bridle way users can safely cross over a very busy coastal road to reach the beach.
‘Secondly, Richard has successfully worked with Sue (Whicker), the BHS Northumberland safety advisor and Horses and Road Safety Awareness (HRSA) to introduce 70 signs to raise awareness to road users on the correct way to pass horses on the road.’
Northumberland is the first local authority in the country to introduce the signage scheme designed to make drivers aware of what to do when they encounter horses on the road.
It follows an increasing number of reported incidents involving horses and vehicles. Nationally since 2010, more than 3,700 incidents have been reported to the BHS, in which 315 horses and 43 people died.
They found that 73% of incidents occurred because cars passed too closely to horses and 31% were caused by a vehicle passing too quickly.