Almost a third of van drivers are risking a potentially massive fine and invalidating their insurance by failing to properly secure their dogs while driving to work.
A poll of van users found that 41 per cent who own dogs prefer to take their four-legged friend to work with them but nearly one in three admits to not properly restraining their pet.
The study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles also found that one in 10 drivers has had an accident while travelling in a vehicle with a pet or knows someone who has.
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that pets must be "suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly."
Failing to secure a dog or other pet in your vehicle can bring fines ranging from £1,000 for driving without proper control all the way up to £5,000 and nine penalty points for careless driving.
If you are involved in an accident due to having an unrestrained pet in your vehicle you are also likely to invalidate your insurance, leaving you facing another costly bill.
Kate Thompson, head of marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, commented: “After such an extended period at home last year, we know that, now more than ever, van drivers don’t want to leave their dogs at home or with dogsitters when they go to work. It is important to be aware, however, of the risks attached whether it is distractions while driving and near misses or the possible fines attached to driving with unrestrained pets. We aim to work with our customers so they can get back on the road safely.”
Pet lovers can use a variety of methods to keep their faithful friends safe on the move, ranging from seat-belt harnesses and pet carriers to dog cages and guards.
To help owners make sure their pets are safe and happy travelling in a van or car, Dogs Trust has created this checklist:
- Safety first: Dogs must be secured in a comfortably-sized seat-belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or in the boot behind a dog-guard. These must be securely fitted and positioned so your dog can’t interfere with the driver or hang out of windows.
- Make the car an enjoyable place to be: Start by using your dog’s favourite treats to reward them for being calm whenever they’re near the car, even just walking around it to begin. Never leave your dog alone in the vehicle and always travel with water.
- Gradually introduce your dog to travelling in the car or van: Dogs need to get used to the sound and movement of the car slowly. Giving your dog extra tasty treats whenever the van starts up and starts to move means they’ll begin to associate these changes with good things happening.
- Acclimatise your dog to car journeys: Start with short, slow and gentle, familiar journeys that will allow your dog to get used to car travel in a positive way. Having a friend, who your dog knows well and is comfortable with, with you can be helpful so there is someone to be beside your dog if necessary while you are driving.