Driving with dogs in your car – the law
19th December 2017
Look around any park or popular dog-walking area today and it is likely that the majority of them will have broken the law within the last 30 mins and will do it again within the next hour as they return home, but how?
Driving without due care and attention
If you are caught by the police travelling with an unsecured dog in your car, or if it causes you to have an accident, you could be liable for a host of punishments under the banner of ‘Driving without Due Care and Attention’. To add insult to injury it might also make your car insurance null and void, so if you do have an accident, you wouldn’t be able to make a claim. A sobering thought isn’t it?
Rule 57 of The Highway Code on the transportation of dogs in cars says,
‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are 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.’
There is no actual penalty for breaking Rule 57, but once broken, you can be prosecuted for ‘Driving without due care and attention’, which could mean losing your license, a maximum £2,500 fine and nine penalty points.
Regarding the loss of insurance, a spokesman for insurance comparison site gocompare.com previously quoted in an article in the Daily Mirror says,
‘The law is clear – you must secure your animal while in a car – therefore if you don’t do this and an animal roaming freely around the vehicle is said to have contributed to causing an accident, then an insurance company could be well within their rights not to pay out on a claim.’
Add to this any claims by another injured party and vets bills and you are going be looking at an eye wateringly large amount of money that you are going to have to find to settle these bills.
Airbags, laps and flying dogs
In case the points listed above aren’t enough haven’t convinced you to restrain your dog in the car next time you go out, consider these facts:
- When a dog is loose in a car and you are involved in an accident, the dog can very quickly become airborne and effectively a missile flying through your car, injuring people as it goes. These figures from American company Puppy Traffic School, makes for eye opening reading.
- A 4.5kg dog (eg a Bichon Frise) will exert 226.7 kg of force in a crash a 30mph
- A 36.2kg dog (eg a female Rottweiler) will exert 1088.6kg of force in a crash of 30mph (figures converted from lbs to kgs from the original US based article).
- In a crash, a dog restrained in the front seat may well suffer serious injury, or worse, if the airbag is deployed. If you must seat them here (not advised), make sure you disengage the airbag first.
- A dog being carried either on the driver’s or the passenger’s lap may suffer the same fate as points 1 and 2 above. In a collision it would be virtually impossible to hold onto the dog at the point of impact, meaning the animal could become airborne and end up travelling through the car and possibly the front window at speed. This is usually fatal for the dog. If someone does manage to hold onto the dog, it will be even closer to the air bag and will feel the full force of its deployment.
Acceptable methods of restraint
So how should one transport a pet safely in the car? Rule 57 of the Highway Code says,
‘A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.’
Seat belt harnesses are easy to fit and use and will make sure your dog is quickly and safely secured in the back seat. If you are using a dog cage or pet carrier, make sure it is securely fitted into the back of the car, it is no good if it is free to move around, it will itself turn into the airborne missile!. Dog guards are widely available from all good pet shops although won’t stop a smaller dog becoming airborne in the case of a collision. Our photo shows just one of the right ways to restrain your pet safely in a car.
As experts in animal care you won’t be surprised to know that dogs travelling with us do so in total safety. Each Petpals van contain purpose built and professionally fitted pet transportation cages, with at least two entry and exit doors per cage. Added to this the walls of our vans are plywood lined and the floor is entirely covered in rubber matting for hygiene purposes.
We hope you have found this article informative; we know how much you love your pets and just want to see them all safe and sound when they’re out in the car with you.
If you would like to talk to Petpals about our dog transportation service, please visit our website https://www.petpals.com
Win a dog harness!
In conjunction with this article we’re giving away a dog travel harness (to suit the size of your dog!). Simply enter you details at the bottom of the article to be entered into the draw. Winners will be notified via email by 1 February 2018. There is no cash alternative to this prize, the winner will be picked at random.
The competition is now closed and the winner has been notified. Many thanks for your entries!
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