There are occasions where your pet needs to accompany you in your vehicle – whether you’re going to visit family and can’t leave your dog behind, or you’re taking your cat to the vet. While there are no specific laws regarding the carrying of domestic pets in your car while in the UK, there are safety requirements on how you transport your animals, which must be adhered to. By taking the precautions before taking your pets in your car, you can reduce the risk of accidents and avoid a substantial fine.

The safety of your pets

While your pets are in your vehicle you should ensure that they are strapped in, either by a seatbelt harness, dog cage, pet carrier or guard. By carefully restraining them you know for your peace of mind that they are properly controlled during the journey – and are protected in the event that you need to brake suddenly.

One in five owners regularly travels with their dog in the passenger seat of their vehicle without restraining their dogs. We recommend that your pets aren’t in the front passenger seat, as this can be dangerous if you have to make a sudden stop or turn a corner. If you do choose to use a seat harness, make sure that it is secured to the seat belt attachment, fits properly, and is the appropriate size. If you choose not to secure your pet with a safety restraint, not only can you endanger the lives of everyone in your car, but you can also face up to £5,000 in fines.

Distractions

Without restraining your pets in your car while you are driving, you can risk the lives of the people in your vehicle – and in other vehicles. New research revealed that a quarter of survey participants admitted to finding their pets a distraction, with a further 10% having to take their hands off the wheel to restrain their pet. In fact, 5% of survey participants confessed to taking selfies and playing with their dog while driving.

As pets can be a huge part of our lives, it is unsurprising that we want to take them with us on holidays and long journeys. However, the danger that can be caused by a driver being distracted is something to be conscious of when bringing your pets in your vehicle. By leaving your pet unrestrained, greater harm can be caused to them if they are running loose in the car – particularly in the event that an accident does occur.

The comfort of your pets

Safety is the most important concern when driving with your pets. By ensuring your pet is comfortable you can also reduce the number of distractions you may have to deal with while driving. Before getting into the car, make sure to feed your pet at least two hours before travelling, as they travel better on an empty stomach, rather than straight after feeding. This also helps with any travel sickness that your pet may encounter.

When caring for your pet throughout the journey ensure that you include regular exercise and toilet breaks – especially if it’s a long journey. However, when you do go outside of the vehicle with your pet, be sure to keep them on a lead, as this will keep them safe when there may be other cars around. Be sure to provide your pets with plenty of water in a spill-proof bowl and to bring snacks in case you get stuck in traffic, or if your journey is particularly long.

For more information on driver distractions and how to mitigate them, check out our guide to driver distractions, or read our 10 tips for safe driving.

Driving with pets aka Driving Miss Daisy

Check out the infographic below for tips on keeping your pet happy while travelling in a car: