Dogs In Cars: What Are The Rules?

Tue 20th Jul 2021

Motorists and man’s best friend, the dog, can often be seen sharing their journeys together on the UK road network, and there’s fewer greater sights than a dog enjoying sticking its head out of the window with the wind in its hair.

But while your dog may be enjoying the experience, it’s a little know fact that an unsecured pet in your car can prove to be an expensive experience. And if you think a trip to the vet is unkind on your wallet, then a £5,000 fine for breaking the Highway Code might have you howling at the moon.

According to research by Direct Line Pet Insurance, one in three drivers, the equivalent of 5.5 million car and pet owners, admit to driving without properly securing their dog. The rule is clear as day in the Highway Code, with Rule 57 stating that ‘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.’

The insurance providers research found that 11 per cent of those surveyed had been distracted by their pet while driving. The famous sight of dog with head out of window was allowed by one in five drivers, and while many will argue that it helps keep their dog cool, there is a shocking nine per cent who shamefully admit that they leave their pet in the car on a hot day.

While you could receive an on-the-spot fine for £100 for being distracted while driving, that could rise to £5,000 if you are deemed to be careless. Not to mention that your insurance is likely to be invalid in the event of an accident.

“It’s great that so many dogs are taken on car journeys and we expect that to rise this summer as staycations remain popular,” said Madeline Pike, veterinary nurse for Direct Line Pet Insurance. “But it’s also really important to remember to secure dogs safely in a car, not just for their own health and wellbeing but also to ensure they don’t distract the driver.

“Travelling with dogs isn’t always easy, so if you’re planning a long trip, make sure your dog is used to being in the car first, you have a suitable restraint for them and have planned regular stops. It is also vital that dogs are never left in a car on a hot day, as this can be extremely dangerous for them.”