Be on the lookout: Horses on the roads this Summer
Summer weather brings more drivers onto our roads. It is the time of year when we must be vigilant to ensure we are keeping an eye out for bicyclists, motorcycles, e-bikes, and farm vehicles.
When out on rural roads, drivers also need to heed caution to horses being ridden or driven either on our near our roads.
Unlike bicycles, motorcycles, and e-bikes, horses are not “controlled” by pushing buttons or depressing brake pedals. Because of this, one must exercise extreme caution when approaching a rider on horseback or a horse-drawn vehicle to prevent a serious personal injury from occurring.
Most riders try to stay out of the way of vehicular traffic and will do their best to keep their horse well off the roadway when approached by cars or other motorized vehicles. Horses do not respond well to surprises and can react to unfamiliar objects or loud noises in unpredictable ways such as spooking, bolting, rearing, and bucking. Being prey animals, horses respond to threats by fleeing. In such situations, it is possible for a rider of even the best trained horse to come off the horse and suffer serious injuries.
If you are driving a car, riding a bicycle, or on a motorcycle, please be very cautious and considerate when approaching a rider on horseback or a horse-drawn vehicle. Be mindful of the fact that the sound of your car or motorcycle (or even the sight of your bicycle approaching swiftly) can easily spook and scare the horse.
Ontario law actually mandates you to do so. The Highway Traffic Act requires users of the roadway approaching horses being ridden, driven, or led to use “every reasonable precaution to prevent the frightening of the horse.”
To ensure the safety and protection of the rider or driver, reduce your speed and maintain a safe distance. Give the rider or driver plenty of room when approaching or passing. Never, ever rev the engine or honk your horn.
A loose horse on or near the roadway is a threatening situation. If you encounter this hazard, slow down and proceed with extreme caution. A loose horse can unpredictably run out in front of your vehicle putting not only the horse, but you in danger. Do not chase a loose horse as this will only cause them to run. If the rider is not within site, call 911 for assistance.
By being respectful and mindful of others on our roads, drivers and riders can together enjoy our warm weather safely.