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Drivers urged to find their brakes for horse and riders' sake

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A trackwork rider whose horse was spooked and fell outside the Sunshine Coast Turf Club at Corbould Park has pleaded for motorists to slow down near the racecourse.

Issy Blunt was crossing Pierce Avenue from the track to the stables on the other side when she said that, for the second time in three days, a driver ignored her signal to slow down.

Her horse took fright and fell. Ms Blunt managed to fall out of the way, with neither sustaining injuries, but she fears it is only a matter of time before a person or horse is seriously injured.

“I’ve worked at the track for two years and it’s been an issue for the whole time I’ve been there,” she said.

“The people are so ignorant of the road rules and unaware of the damage they could do when they don’t slow down.”

A Queensland road rule makes it illegal to frighten a horse that is already unsettled or agitated.

According to transport operations regulation 303A, if a rider raises their hand and points to their horse, indicating it is “restive” or unsettled, a driver must pull over to the far left of the road, stop their engine and not move until it is unlikely the movement will startle the horse.

Ms Blunt said a driver did not even stop when a rider fell.

“Last year, one of the boys that rides there had an incident with a truck. His horse went up and he landed in the gutter. He left in an ambulance and the truck driver didn’t stop,” she said.

She said problems on Pierce Avenue had increased in line with the traffic.

“People use it as shortcut to get around the traffic on Caloundra Road,” she said.

An aerial view of the Corbould Park racecourse, with Pierce Avenue at the bottom of the image. Picture: Nearmap

Although there are flashing lights and a speed bump and raised crossing, Ms Blunt said they had little impact and it could be difficult to use the crossing.

“There’s a crossing down the road that we could use but you’ve got to go along the road to get there which is just as dangerous,” she said.

Sunshine Coast Turf Club chief executive John Miller said the club and trainers shared concerns about the safety of workers and horses crossing Pierce Avenue.

“It’s probably got worse with the amount of traffic that’s coming through the area now,” he said.

“What’s happening is that people are using Pierce Avenue to try and avoid traffic on Caloundra Road.”

Mr Miller said many drivers did not understand horses, how they could react and how difficult it could be for riders.

He said the safety issues had been raised with the Sunshine Coast Council and Department of Transport and Main Roads years ago, which resulted in lights and crossings being installed, but he said “some of them aren’t in the right space”.

He said the club was working with the council on a design for a new crossing directly in front of the entrance used for horses, which was confirmed by the council.

A race at Corbould Park. Picture: AAP

“Community safety is one of Sunshine Coast Council’s top priorities. We continually monitor the safety and operation of our transport network,” a council spokesperson said.

“Council is liaising with the Sunshine Coast Turf Club to implement an additional zebra crossing on Pierce Avenue, Caloundra. Installation date is to be decided by the club.”

The aerial imagery in this story is from Australian location intelligence company Nearmap. The company provides government organisations, architectural, construction and engineering firms, and other companies with easy, instant access to high-resolution aerial imagery, city-scale 3D content, artificial intelligence data sets, and geospatial tools to assist with urban planning, monitoring and development projects in Australia, New Zealand and North America.

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