Drivers are being reminded to brush up on some of the lesser-known road rules when driving near horses as part of an awareness campaign rolling out to keep motorists and riders safe on country roads.
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Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said it was important to remember that riders and horse-drawn vehicles have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers, motorcycle riders and cyclists using the road.
"Horses and other livestock aren't uncommon on roads in the bush, and this campaign reminds everyone to share the road safely," Mr Toole said.
"Drivers should slow down and allow plenty of room when passing a horse, whether it's being ridden, led or pulling a vehicle. Horses are easily spooked and can be unpredictable, so don't use your horn or rev your engine.
"Horses are considered a vehicle on the road, so riders need to obey the road rules, ride on the left-hand side in the same direction as traffic, avoid tight corners or crests and try keep a good line of sight."
In the last 10 years, there have been nine fatalities involving a ridden horse, while there were 54 casualty crashes involving a riderless horse struck by a vehicle, resulting in the deaths of two people and serious injuries to 15 others.
The Country Women's Association (CWA) of NSW President Stephanie Stanhope said an incident earlier this year, which saw a rider injured and a horse euthanized after being hit by a vehicle, served as a reminder to keep up to date on road rules.
"We are seeing too many close calls and often these animals are a major part of a rider's livelihood, so we ask that motorists are respectful when sharing the road with horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles to avoid any unfortunate incidents," Ms Stanhope said.
"Riders should also be aware of their surroundings, including traffic, pedestrians, road surfaces and changing weather conditions, and, if possible, ride during daylight hours.
"It is also good practice to avoid tight corners or crests and instead ride on roads where motorists have a good line of sight, and the wearing of high visibility or bright-coloured clothing and a helmet that meets Australian standards is strongly recommended."
For more information, visit https://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/drivers/animalsoncountryroads/horses-in-traffic.html.
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