Riders should head out into the country this weekend and spend their money in rural areas to help drought-stricken communities, but they should also be aware that motorcycle exhausts can startle horses.
If you see a farmer or a recreational rider on a horse by the side of the road, pull your clutch in and roll past as quietly as possible so you don’t startle the horse.
On one occasion I witnessed a fellow rider rev his bike as he passed a horse which got such a fright it ran into a barbed wire fence, slashing its chest.
If the horse was being ridden at the time, the rider could have been injured.
My colleague also didn’t consider that half a tonne of horse could have bolted straight at him!
Be aware that there are road rules for horse riders in every states but there are no specific road rules for motorists riding or driving near horses, except in Queensland.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads has recently issued a warning that they could be fined $2600 for not giving way to a horse rider or livestock on the road.
If the horse rider has an agitated horse, they can signal to the motorist to stop until they have the horse under control.
The motorist is legally obliged to pull over, turn off their vehicle’s engine and wait until the ride gives the all-clear.
Other states don’t have rules or penalties, but they do recommend the same procedure.
If you see a horse ahead, with or without a rider, approach with care.
Even if a horse rider does not indicate their horse is agitated, it’s advisable to pass as widely, slowly and quietly as possible.
Do not use your horn to alert them of your presence as that could startle the horse.
The same guidelines should be applied for livestock on the road.
Be aware that manure on the road is a good indication of horses or livestock on the road ahead, maybe just up around that blind corner or over the crest of the next hill.
However, nine out of 10 animal strikes involves a kangaroo.
Riders are encouraged to report animals – livestock and even wildlife – that are roaming loose on the roads as they have the potential to cause a severe motorcycle crash. Contact the local the police, road authorities or the local council.
Rules involving horses
Horse riders also have rights and rules.
The Australian Road Rules in all states allow horses to be ridden on roads as well as the median/nature strips and footpaths, unless signed otherwise, such as some highways, tunnels and motorways.
However, riders must:
- Not ride more than two abreast;
- Be within 1.5m of each;
- Give way to pedestrians;
- Be below the 0.05 blood-alcohol limit;
- Obey the speed limit; and
- Not use a mobile phone while riding.
As for livestock on roads, all states require farmers to have adequate fencing and to place relevant warning signs on the road if they are moving stock across the road.
However, in Queensland, livestock has right of way on the road.
In other states, the farmer would be liable for damages and injury for what is referred to as “livestock trespass”.