Horses

It is not unusual to encounter horses and their riders on our roads. 

Horse-riders have little protection from other vehicles and horses may behave unpredictably at times. 

Crashes with horses typically involve:

  • High speed roads – 70 km/h speed zones and above.
  • Outer suburbs or rural areas.
  • A vehicle hitting the horse from behind or side-swiping a horse as the vehicle overtakes.
  • The horse being spooked or bolting.
  • The horse straying from a paddock or enclosure.
What can motorists do to minimise risk?
  • Watch out for horses being led or driven on the road – leave as much space as possible to allow for unexpected movements by the horse.
  • Take extra care on bends, crests and on narrow roads, particularly in areas close to horse riding schools, trail ride businesses and on rural roads.
  • Slow down when passing a horse so your vehicle does not startle the horse, and allow plenty of room when overtaking.
  • Don’t use your car horn around horses – it will startle even the most placid horse.
  • Allow for inexperienced horse riders – especially young children.
What can horse-riders do to enhance their safety on the road?

As a horse-rider, you should:

  • know and obey the Australian Road Rules
  • ride on the left hand side of the road with the flow of the traffic
  • use clear hand signals
  • wear an approved helmet and footwear safe for horse riding
  • wear fluorescent clothing during the day and reflective clothing if you ride in the early mornings or evenings when the light is poor
  • always ‘look, check, and look again’ - the lifesaver look
  • where possible, use horse trails and horse crossings
  • if you’re an inexperienced rider, always be accompanied by experienced rider/horse combinations when in road-related areas
  • ride single file or two-abreast
  • ride carefully and be a courteous road user
  • if you are involved in an incident on the road, report it
  • always ride with a positive attitude.

What the Law says 

Under the Australian Road Rules, horses are regarded as a vehicle and riders are subject to the same road rule as apply to other drivers.  However there are some specific additional rules including:

  • Horses are allowed on footpaths and nature strips, unless specifically prohibited.
    Horse riders must give way to any pedestrian on a footpath or nature strip.
  • If you are riding two-abreast with another rider, you must not ride more than 1.5m apart.  This will allow other road users room to overtake safely.
  • Lights on animal drawn vehicles – when ridden at night or in conditions of reduced visibility they must display a white light on each side at the front of the vehicle, a red light on each side at the rear (visible for 200m) and be fitted with a red reflector towards the rear of each side of the vehicle.
  • A person must not lead an animal while also driving a motor vehicle or riding a bicycle.

Penalties

A horse is considered to be a vehicle and therefore permitted to be ridden on the road, horse-riders are subject to the same penalties for road traffic offences as other drivers. 

Publications

Horse Riding and Road Safety in Australia

Links

Horse SA
Australian Road Rules

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