Spring has sprung and many of us are taking advantage of the warmer weather to take day trips or weekend breaks with the whole family – pets included.
But before drivers allow Rover to stick his head out of the window they should consider the legal and insurance implications.
According to the Highway Code* drivers need to ‘make sure that dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so that they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop too quickly’. The law recommends a seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or guard as ways of restraining your pet while driving.
Matt Oliver, Gocompare.com’s car insurance spokesman, said: “Driving with your pet is sometimes a necessity, whether it’s a short trip to the vet or a longer trip for a weekend way - but making sure they are properly controlled is essential for the safety of everyone in the car.
“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.
Matt added: “A US study of in-car video footage** estimated that 22% of crashes could be caused, at least in part, by driver distraction, so however much you worry about your pet being comfortable on car journeys, restraining them properly ensures that they and you are less likely to get hurt if there is an accident.”
“Insurance and legal implications aside, many animals suffer from motion sickness and so don’t like travelling in cars and therefore can get spooked when on the move, so restraining them properly can make journeys safer and more enjoyable for you and your pets.”
- If you are travelling with a dog, try and take it for a long walk before you set off so it doesn’t have any pent up energy for the journey ahead.
- Don’t feed your pet for two hours before you travel as many suffer from motion sickness.
- Restrain your animal properly with a harness, crate or guard. There are many on the market so shop around and see which one is best for your car and your pet.
- Keep the car cool when driving. Cars can get very hot and cats and dogs are already wearing their coats, so use sun blinds or open a window to make sure they don’t get overheated.
- Plan your journey for regular breaks. This will allow your animal to go to the toilet as well as have some fresh air.
- Ensure that your animal has plenty to drink so they don’t become dehydrated.
- Take a supply of their normal food, in case of a breakdown, or if you are travelling a long way.
- Never leave an animal alone in a car, especially on hot days, as this could lead to dehydration.
For more information on traveling with pets, read Gocompare.com’s guide to travelling with your pet.
Notes to editors:
* www.gov.uk/rules-about-animals-47-to-58/other-animals-56-to-58 https://www.gov.uk/rules-about-animals-47-to-58/other-animals-56-to-58
** The impact of driver inattention on near-crash/crash risk, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006