It’s important to understand what you can do to ensure animals are kept safe on our roads. Find out about pets in cars, horse riding, helping an injured animal and giving way to livestock and cattle.

Pets in cars

While the Victorian Road Rules don’t require you to restrain an animal inside a vehicle, restraining pets is considered the safest approach for both human passengers and animals alike. When your pet is safely buckled up, they’ll be less likely to cause distractions, escape or try to sit on your lap – which isn’t allowed on the road. We recommend using a proper pet seatbelt, or a pet carrier secured in the back seat. Wagons and SUVs may be fitted with a cargo barrier to keep the animal in the cargo area.

It’s also important to remember the law in Victoria requires dogs on utes to be restrained using a tether or crate. This ensures the dog won’t fall from the vehicle when you’re in motion. Animals must also not be led by a vehicle, which means you can’t tie your dog or cat to the wheel or handlebars of a bike.

For more information see rule 297 and 301 of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017.

Pets and motorbikes

Unless you’re a farmer travelling a short distance, you’re not allowed to ride your motorbike with your pet between you and the handlebars, or in any other position that impacts your ability to control your bike or see the road clearly.

You can find out more about the safe transportation of dogs and cats by visiting Agriculture Victoria and reading the following Codes of Practice:

For more information see rule 297 of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017.

Riding animals

There are some key points to take away from rules 302, 303 and 303A of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017. These include:

  • If you’re riding an animal on the road, you need to obey the same rules as other drivers.
  • You can ride an animal on footpaths and nature strips (unless specifically prohibited) but you need to give way to pedestrians.
  • When riding beside another rider, you can’t ride more than 1.5 meters apart unless overtaking.
  • Riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet when riding a horse.

Sharing the road with horses

In central Melbourne, as well as the outer-suburbs and regional Victoria, you may come across horses and horse-drawn vehicles on or beside the road. Horses can be unpredictable and easily scared, so take extra care when you encounter them.

Whether you’re riding a bike or driving a car, if you see a horse:

  1. Slow down and be ready to stop.
  2. Give them plenty of room (at least a car’s width) and pass slowly when safe and legal to do so.
  3. Don’t make sudden moves or noises like revving your engine, tooting your horn or cycling quickly past the horse from behind.

Injured animals

Every year thousands of native wildlife are killed on Victorian roads. This is absolutely devastating for these animals that suffered or died, but also a huge concern for the safety of drivers and passengers. RACV and Wildlife Victoria urge you to please slow down while driving between dusk and dawn in areas populated by wildlife when our nocturnal animals are most active and feeding.

If you’ve accidentally hit an animal or spotted an injured animal on the road, there are things you can do to help.

Reporting an accident involving an animal

An injured animal left on the road has the potential to cause further incidents to other road users. If you’ve accidentally hit an animal, and there’s a chance that it will create a hazard for other road users, you must stop in a safe place and either remove the animal or call for help.

  • Toll road: contact the toll-road operator
  • Major roads: call VicRoads
  • Local road: contact the local Council or VicRoads.

Helping an injured animal

If you’ve been able to move the animal to safety, try to keep it warm and calm, then contact the property owner or Wildlife Victoria. Even if the animal didn’t survive, someone may need to be sent to check the pouch for young and make the area safe.

You can even check the pouch yourself – just make sure you look after your own safety first: don’t go out onto dangerous roads, always wear gloves, and don’t ever try to forcibly remove a baby that has latched onto its Mum’s teat – you’ll need a specially trained rescuer for that. If you are unsure or would like to check details give Wildlife Victoria’s emergency response operators a call.

For more information see rule 293 of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017.

Why are wildlife accidents common at certain times?

Macropods, like kangaroos and wallabies, are most active and will feed at dawn and dusk. The grass on the sides of our roads tends to be fresher from water run-off, making these areas favourable to wildlife but obviously dangerous for both the animals and road users. Wildlife Victoria’s Emergency Response Service receives a spike in calls during these active hours. Headlights can often ‘blind’ animals, confusing them and initiating a reactive fight or flight response. If you see a mob of kangaroos or other wildlife near the side of the road, slow down to a speed that is safe for you to break if needed, ensuring your well-being and that of our wildlife.

What can motorists do to avoid collisions with wildlife?

Motorists should be aware that they are in macropod territory when driving on some of Victoria’s (and suburban Melbourne’s) roads. By keeping aware of your surroundings and being particularly cautious during twilight hours, you should have a better chance of avoiding a collision. Reducing your speed in these areas at these times increases your chance of safely stopping if you come across wildlife on the road.

Giving way to cattle and livestock

Cows in a paddock

‘Give Way to Stock’ signs are typically displayed 300m before a livestock crossing, but this can vary. When you see one, you must slow down and allow the animals to cross before continuing on your way.

When a stop sign is displayed at a stock crossing, you need to come to a complete halt and not start driving again until all the animals have completed their crossing.

Both of these stock-related road signs are legally enforceable, so make sure you abide by them or you may receive a fine.

For more information, refer to rules 402, 403 and 404 of Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017.

The summaries RACV provide on Victorian road rules are based on the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2017. We make sure to reference the exact rule where possible. When reading, keep in mind that we’re providing general information, not legal advice. If you’re looking for specific questions on any legal matter, consult with a lawyer for help.