New law: Motorists must slow for horses


Staff Writer

MILLSTONE — A lack of trails has forced horseback riders to share the road with cars and trucks, but a new law could make the situation safer.

Acting Gov. Richard Codey signed a law on Dec. 7 that requires motorists to reduce their speed to 25 mph or lower when approaching or passing equestrians.

According to Bob and Betty Bailey, president and secretary, respectively, of the Horsemen’s Association of Millstone Township (HAMT), their organization has been actively lobbying for the need for horse awareness signs throughout Mill-stone Township.

Mayor Nancy Grbelja, a fellow horsewoman, and Deputy Mayor Elias Abilheira have been acting as liaisons, according to the couple.

The association formed its own Horse Awareness Sign Committee, which made a presentation to the Township Commit-tee in August to explain the need for signs to be placed throughout the town. The signs would inform motor vehicle drivers of the need to be cautious when approaching or passing a person who is riding or driving a horse.

At the meeting, it was stated that HAMT would be willing to donate the signs.

The Baileys said Grbelja, Abilheira and the other committeemen were unanimous in their support for the cause and asked the association to proceed with a model sign. The governing body also asked the association to suggest locations for them.

Bob Bailey said the association made a sample sign and is ready to present it to the township for input. However, due to the new law, it will need a minor change in verbiage.

According to Bailey, although the law now exists, the signs are an important way to get the word out, and the association is committed to educating the public.

“For the equestrian who rides near a road, the law is meaningless without informing the general public that it exists,” Bailey said. “We hope to have signs posted on all roads entering the township and in the vicinity of high equestrian traffic.”

The Baileys have been in contact with Grbelja, who said she will make sure the new law will be posted on the township cable channel, placed on the Millstone Web site and published in the Millstone newsletter.

“An equestrian should never assume a motorist knows the law, and should always use caution when riding, but hopefully, this new law will greatly reduce the number of accidents or close encounters with motor vehicles,” said Bob Bailey.

“The equestrian can now breathe a sigh of relief,” he continued, “knowing that motorists must reduce their speed to 25 mph or less when approaching or passing equestrians, or [they will] be subject to a fine because it’s the law.”

The mayor said she was extremely happy that the Legislature has passed the bill requiring motorists to reduce their speed when horses are present.

She added, “It is unfortunate however, that many motorists did not have the common courtesy and understanding to reduce their speed when passing people on horseback.”

Grbelja said she would also ask another local trails group, the Millstone Trailblazers, to assist by identifying areas where horse trails cross the road so that those areas could be marked as well. In addition, she hopes that the township’s horse organizations will include the information in their newsletters and other communication venues.

“Millstone Township is a beautiful community with a large horse industry,” Grbelja said. “The passage of this law will allow our residents to thoroughly enjoy the community as they should — safely by horseback.”

Grbelja said that she and Abilheira plan to ask the New Jersey State Police, which patrols Millstone, to assist in enforcing the new law.