Rules and advice about animals, vehicles and roads

Animals and vehicles: all you need to know

Can I take my dog for a run when riding my bike? What should I do if I spot an injured animal on the road? What are the rules when transporting my pet in a car?
In this section we’ll look at the road rules and provide advice about animals, vehicles and roads.

Driving around horses

Horse-riding is a popular hobby for many Victorians of all-ages. 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 at some point.  Horses can be unpredictable and easily scared so extra care must be taken when you encounter them. Horses are allowed to be ridden on roads under the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules.

If you do see a horse:

  • Slow down and be ready to stop,
  • Give them plenty of room (at least a car’s width) and pass slowly when safe and legal to do so,
  • Don’t make sudden moves or noises like revving the engine or tooting the horn.

If on a bicycle, don’t ride quickly past, particularly from behind. If the horse or rider isn’t aware that you are coming, you may scare them, putting everyone at risk of injury.  It is best to call-out, slow down or stop and wait, as appropriate, not approaching until you are sure that the rider has seen you.

For advice on sharing trails and paths in the bush see the Australian Trail Horse Riders Association.

For the rules that apply to riders of horses see people in charge of animals.

Injured animals

There’s nothing more distressing than hitting an animal, or indeed spotting one injured on the road. If you do however happen to hit one, or indeed see an injured animal on the road there are important steps to take.

If you’ve hit an animal and there’s a possibility that if left on the road, it may injure a person, damage a vehicle or obstruct the road, you must stop in a safe place and either remove the animal, or take steps to do so. This might be by calling VicRoads, for example.

You can report the incident to VicRoads on 13 11 70 (24 hours). For toll roads, you can contact VicRoads or the the toll road operator. For local roads contact the local Council.

If you see an animal that’s been hurt, if it is safe to do so, try to keep the injured animal warm and quiet and then contact the property owner, or Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535. Wildlife Victoria provides a service ensuring that wildlife in need of care is provided with the most appropriate management. Wildlife Victoria is RACV's environmental partner. Note that  RACV no longer provides a wildlife rescue service that was known as Wildlife Connect.

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

Pets in cars

The Victorian Road Rules don’t require you to restrain an animal in a car. However practicality dictates that you should because the rules require a driver to have full control of a vehicle at all times. When restrained your pet will be less likely to escape or cause a distraction. Therefore restraining your pet correctly makes sense.

A driver must not drive with an animal on their lap.

Motorbike riders must not ride with an animal between the rider and handlebars, or in another position that interferes with the rider’s ability to control the motorbike or have a clear view of the road. There is however one exception for farmers travelling short distances.

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

Agriculture Victoria have developed a Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Dogs and the Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Cats. This says that dogs and cats must not be transported in the boot of a sedan. However, if you have an SUV, station wagon or hatchback, a pet may travel in the back of your vehicle. Any animal riding on the tray of a vehicle such as a truck or ute must be restrained.

We believe in safety for all vehicle occupants, and therefore recommend using appropriate restraints to protect both you and your pets in the event of a crash. We recommend using a proper pet seatbelt, or a pet carrier secured in the back seat. Most pet carriers have slots or loops that allow them to be secured using the vehicle’s seatbelt. Some pet harnesses have attachments that can be inserted into a standard seatbelt buckle. Wagons and SUV’s may be fitted with a cargo barrier to keep the animal in the cargo area.

People in charge of animals

A driver, passenger or cyclist, must not lead an animal by a vehicle (including by tying the animal to the vehicle or bike).

People riding an animal must give way to pedestrians on a footpath or nature strip. The rider must not ride alongside more than one other rider and no more than 1.5 metres from the other rider, unless overtaking. A rider of a horse who is under the age of 18 must wear an approved horse-riding helmet that is securely fitted and fastened.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rules 301, 302, 303 and 303A.

Stock on road signs

Motorists need to watch out for ‘Stop’ and ‘Give way to stock’ signs that are displayed by farmers when they have stock on roads. These signs are legally enforceable, and failing to stop or give way may result in a fine.

‘Stop’ sign or a ‘Give way to stock’ sign will be displayed when stock are at a stock crossing. You must stop a reasonable distance before the crossing and not proceed until all stock has completed their crossing. Warning signs should be displayed before fixed stock crossings.

Where livestock are on or beside the road, 'Give way to stock next X km' signs will be displayed. In this case, drivers must take appropriate action to avoid a collision with any animal on the road. This means a driver must travel at a speed that would allow them to safely stop if an animal were to move in the path of their vehicle. The length of road for which these signs apply may vary, but will be indicated on the sign.

For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rules 402, 403 and 404.