With livestock on the road, who gives way to whom?
QUEENSLAND motorists need to take care on rural roads as the drought continues to impact graziers.
While flooding rains have caused catastrophe in the north west of the state earlier this year, almost two thirds of Queensland is now declared in drought.
Some of these areas have been experiencing dry conditions since 2013.
This has pushed producers to think outside their property boundaries for options to keep livestock alive and as well-fed as possible.
It is not unusual to see native animals such as kangaroos and wallabies grazing the 'long paddock' which is the unfenced roadside grass areas, but farmers can also use this resource.
Mark Vayro is a risk specialist with farm insurer Achmea and partners with farmers in the Toowoomba, Lockyer and Southern Downs regions.
He said while roadside grazing has been a lifeline for cattle producers, it is a legal grey area for motorists.
"The depletion of hay stocks and increased pricing to buy in feed has made many growers start looking over the fence at the roadside grass," he said.
And while most of the producers using the resource know their responsibilities while grazing this area, Mr Vayro said motorists are often unaware of the rules around livestock on the road.
"Animal collisions are one of the most common vehicle claims for people living in our regions, particularly now during the ongoing and persistent drought," he said.
"With a beast on average weighing more than half a tonne, who gives way to who, what are your legal obligations and if there is a collision who pays who?"
Unlike other states, Queensland law still gives right of way to livestock when they are on roads.
"Any damage caused to the motorist's vehicle or injury to driver and/or passengers from the contact of cattle cannot pass liability/guilt onto the cattle owner; thereby preventing any recovery against the owner of the stock," Mr Vayro said.
However, each council area does have local bylaws relating to grazing on roadsides that producers need to stick to, which often include obtaining a permit, putting up a warning sign and only grazing during daylight hours.