Pet sales have skyrocketed during lockdown, with families adding a furry friend to their households.
What some might not know is that taking your pet for a drive could leave you with fines and penalty points on your licence if they aren’t restrained properly.
This is what you need to know.
‘Careless and inconsiderate driving’
Rule 57 of the Highway Code says: “When in a vehicle, make sure that dogs and other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly.
“A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”
While breaking the Highway Code doesn’t directly carry its own penalty, driving with an unrestrained pet could come under the purview of “careless and inconsiderate driving”.
Careless and inconsiderate driving is defined as: “If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public space without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence.”
Unlimited fine and penalty points
The Highway Code states that this offence can land drivers with an “unlimited fine/discretionary disqualification” and between three and nine penalty points.
Driving with an unrestrained pet can also count as evidence against you if you were to end up in an accident. Insurers are unlikely to pay up if an unrestrained pet in a car has caused an accident.
Motorists can be hit with a £200 fine if police deem them to be driving without proper control due to free roaming pets.
Drivers can choose not to pay the fine, and instead take the issue to court, however you can then be fined £2,500 if you are convicted of driving without due care and attention.
How to drive safely with pets
There are steps you can take to ensure that you and your pets are kept safe while driving.
The Highway Code website says:
- Don’t allow your pet to ride with its head hanging out of the window, as it’s potentially dangerous and can cause injury
- Always carry a large water bottle (five litres minimum) in case your pet overheats and needs to be rapidly cooled in an emergency
- Use sun shades on the windows when it is hot or the sun is bright and never leave a pet in a hot car
- Don’t feed your pet within two hours of starting a long car journey to avoid car sickness
- Pack a favourite toy or blanket to give your pet a sense of familiarity