What are the laws when driving with dogs?
Are you aware of Rule 57 of the Highway Code? Rule 57 highlights that drivers are responsible for making sure dogs (or other animals) are suitably restrained in a vehicle in such a way so they cannot distract or injure you or themselves - during an emergency stop.
A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are all ways in which they advise restraining animals in cars.
Ironically a 32kg dog, thrown forward at the speed of 30mph can amount to the sheer force of 100kg. Breaking the Highway Code doesn’t carry a direct penalty, but drivers can still be pulled over for driving without due care, attention or if they are distracted by their dogs. This can result in fines and penalty points and if an unrestrained pet has caused an accident or been involved, insurers are unlikely to pay out.
One of the first statements and pieces of advice is no matter how cute, please do not allow your pet to ride with its head hanging out of the window. One of the first major issues here, it highlights potentially dangerous situations in cars passing by and can cause injury and distractions to the driver. You wouldn’t drive with your arm or your children's hair flying out the window for the simple reason accidents happen. If it's a danger to you, it’s a danger to them and a distraction to other drivers.
It’s always good to ask your vet what a suitable restraint for your pets are. Vets have continued to witness dangerous restraints being used by owners, including simply holding your pets lead on your lap, putting them in cardboard boxes, or tying their leads around car chairs. Vets agree that you should look specifically for a statement saying “seat belt harness” “Pet carrier” “Dog Cage or Guard” and other appropriate restraints. In the case of restraints, harnesses are essential, look for something with decent padding, secure fitting and attachment to a seatbelt.
Some points to remember:
- Do not allow your pet to ride with its head hanging out the window
- Always carry a large water bottle in case of emergencies, burns when travelling, overheating pets etc
- Try not to feed your pet within 2 hours of long car journeys to avoid carsickness
- Pack a favourite toy or blanket to give your pets a sense of familiarity and comfort
- Use sunshades on the windows, to reduce heat when sitting in the boot or when you are not using aircon
- Of course - never ever leave your pet in a vehicle on a hot day!