You are at risk of getting fined up to £5,000 when you drive with your dog unrestrained in the car.
The sad part is most motorists, 2 in 3 drivers in the UK to be precise, are unaware of this. At least, that’s what a survey by Confused.com, a car insurance comparison site found out when it surveyed its audience.
And when you put this survey results side by side with the findings of a new report by uSwitch.com that 69 percent of UK motorists say they travel with their pet in the car.
Then, you’ll realize just how much headache you’d save yourself by taking adequate precautions with your four-legged companions.
The question then is; how can dog owners drive safely? Let’s see what the rule book says:
What does the law recommend?
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that: “when driving with animals – dogs, cats – in a car; the motorist is responsible for ensuring the pet is well restrained to avoid distraction, injury to themselves or to the driver when you hit the brake unexpectedly. A pet carrier, dog cage, dog guard or seat belt harness are adequate restraining methods for animals in cars.”
Now, according to the survey, a fifth of UK drivers said they are unaware of the regulation about driving with pets; hence, inadvertently admitting to driving with their canine friends unrestrained. Another study by UK car leasing company All Car Leasing called “Homeward Hound” found that 1 in 3 dog owners drove their car with their dog being unrestrained.
Apart from the hefty penalty, you could receive as a result of driving with an unrestrained pooch in the car; most insurance companies often refuse to cover the cost of damages in case of an accident.
And in severe cases, you might have your car insurance premium invalidated if in the course of an investigation it was discovered the accident was as a result of distraction from having unrestrained animal onboard.
Or made to retake the practical driving test or even completely banned from driving.
So, the first step from the safety rule book is to restrain your dog. You can do this by either using a seat belt harness to stay your furry friend or place your pet in a cage at the back of the car.
Thankfully, many car models today come fully fitted with dog guards and dividers. And if it doesn’t, you can ask for it to be fitted before purchasing.
Other safety tips include:
Ensure your pets don’t hang their head out of the window
If you are driving with a child in the car, you won’t let them hang their head out of the car window to avoid accidents, right?
So, why let your dog do it? Hanging their head out of the window can pose a great danger to other road users, it’s a distraction. And if you’re stopped by the police be sure you’re getting penalized.
Ensure your pet is well hydrated
Your dogs can get easily dehydrated especially when you’re on a long drive which could make them restless and whinny.
Ensure you pack enough water and a bowl to rehydrate them. Also, make regular stops to give them a drink.