Questions raised over cows right of way.

Removing an old law giving livestock the right of way over vehicles is not the answer to recent road traffic incidents involving cattle, according to an expert.

Figures from the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland show that there were 291 claims involving cow strikes in Queensland from 2017 to 2018. 

The incidents put the focus on the law – unique to Queensland – that gives right of way to cattle over vehicles on our roads.

Most states hold the owners of livestock legally liable for damages resulting from vehicles colliding with livestock on public roads.

In Queensland an old English law gives cattle the right of way on public roads and according to the Deakin Law Review “a landowner has no legal obligation to fence their property so as to avoid animals not known to be dangerous straying from the property, and so causing danger to road users and others”.

But amending laws may not be the answer according to Royal Automobile Club of Queensland spokesman Steve Spalding.

“Prevention is more effective than attempting to produce a legislative solution to what are relatively low numbers of livestock collisions, particularly as every interaction with an animal on the road is likely to have different circumstances,” Mr Spalding said.

“Good signage is important to alert drivers where there is a risk of encountering livestock and it is important landowners are responsible for keeping any fencing in good condition to stop straying animals.”

Mr Spalding did however suggest some of the onus was on drivers to be cautious.

“If you see cattle on the roads, slow down and remember to be patient,” he said.

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