Whether you are setting off for a day out or are going away on holiday, you may have your dog in the car with you. This is not a problem if your dog is properly secured. But if it isn’t, you could find yourself in serious trouble.
Rule 57 of the highway code states: “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.”
If you drive with an unrestrained pet in the car you are putting yourself, your passengers and your pet in danger. Your actions could result in a fine of up to £2500 and may even invalidate your insurance. Breaching the highway code isn’t, in itself, an offence, but you might be considered to be driving without due care and attention, especially if you cause an accident when distracted by your pooch. If an unrestrained pet is deemed to be the cause of an accident, your insurer is likely to refuse to pay out.
Top Tips for Driving with Dogs in The Car
Driving with pets in the car is always tricky, even if they are restrained as it is hard to ignore them! Your car’s interior can also represent a threat to your dog’s wellbeing. But there are ways to minimise your chances of experiencing a disaster:
- Don’t ever allow your dog to ride with its head hanging out of the window. You never know what is around the next corner and you may have to move closer to the side of the road without warning.
- Always travel with a large water bottle in the car in case your pet overheats and need to be cooled down as a matter of urgency.
- Use sunshades on your windows in hot summer weather and never leave your pet in a car unattended. They can overheat extremely quickly.
- Don’t feed your pet within two hours of starting out, in case they become affected by motion sickness.
- Keep a supply of pet food in the car in case you become stuck in traffic and your journey takes a lot longer than you had anticipated.
- Travel with a bowl for your dog’s food and drinking water.
- Always secure your pet in a cage or via a harness attached to the seatbelt system. A cage should be large enough to allow your dog to turn around, to sit upright and preferably to stand up.
- Place an old blanket over your seat or boot, even if your pet is in a cage. This will catch any accidents and will protect your interior from scrapes.
- Stop every two hours for a toilet break and to allow your dog to exercise a little.
- Take great care when letting your pet out of the car or their cage when you are adjacent to the road. They will be keen to get out and could jump past you in an instant. It is best to hold their collar or harness until you have attached their lead.
- Don’t turn around to look at your pet whilst you are driving. If you frequently feel the need to do this, invest in a mirror that will enable you to see behind you. These were evolved to help parents to keep an eye on their kids but are equally useful for pets!