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More than a third of UK drivers travel in the car with their dog unrestrained

Published 15 July 2021

More than a third of 2000 drivers who travel in the car with their dog do so without safely securing their pet, according to new research from Direct Line Pet Insurance.

When it comes to restraining dogs in cars, over a third (37 per cent) of owners, potentially over five million people, do not do so safely. Instead, the drivers choose to either leave their dog loose in the back seat (14 per cent), in the boot without a gate (eight per cent), on someone’s lap (six per cent) or unsecure on the front seat (five per cent).

Like people, pets need to be safely secured in the car when travelling. Rule 57 of The Highway Code states that when in a vehicle, dogs and other animals must be suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.

While there’s no direct penalty for leaving a dog unrestrained, driving with an unrestrained pet could come under careless and inconsiderate driving. This offence can carry an unlimited fine/discretionary disqualification, as well as three to nine penalty points.

If your policy provider discovers that you were driving with an unrestrained pet, you might be denied insurance coverage, too — even if the accident wasn’t your fault.

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One of the most well-known dangers to dogs in cars is being left alone in hot weather. However, despite this, one in 11 dog owners who have taken their pet on a trip admits to having left them alone in the car on a hot day.

In 2019, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) saw a three-year high for the number of reports of animals suffering heat exhaustion, while the RSPCA’s emergency line in England & Wales receives over 8000 reports of dogs in hot cars every year.

If an owner is convicted under the Animal Welfare Act of failing to meet the needs of their dog or causing unnecessary suffering - by leaving them in a hot vehicle - they could face a maximum sentence of six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine. The maximum sentence for the worst cases of animal cruelty and suffering is now five years, too.

Madeline Pike, Veterinary Nurse for Direct Line Pet Insurance said: “Travelling with dogs isn’t always easy, so if you’re planning a long trip, make sure your dog is used to being in the car first, you have a suitable restraint for them and have planned regular stops. It is also vital that dogs are never left in a car on a hot day, as this can be extremely dangerous for them.”

To ensure pets have stress-free and safe trips this summer, Direct Line suggests investing in suitable safety equipment - like crates, gates and harnesses and keeping your dog cool with access to fresh air. The insurer also advises never letting your pet ride with their head sticking out of the window as they could fall out of the vehicle or be struck by a passing object.

Comments

Terry Eiss    on 15 July 2021

Illegal here in Spain to not restrain dogs in the back seat or behind a guard, a really sensible law.

christopher lloyd    on 16 July 2021

I've reported a neighbour to the police numerous times for driving around in his banger with a full grown husky unrestrained in the front passenger seat of his car. He cannot see out of his left window or his NS wing mirror, the police have done absolutely nothing about it. Its a matter of time before he kills someone or the dog.

Edited by christopher lloyd on 16/07/2021 at 08:26

Steven Campbell    on 21 July 2021

The amount of and I make no apologies for saying this, i****s who I see with their dogs not restrained and/or behind a dog guard in the car is quite a lot! Are dog owers that stupid or something?

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