Do you travel with your dog in the car at all? Perhaps a trip to the beach, or a woodland walk nearby, or even just when nipping to the vets. How much consideration do you give to how your dog is travelling, and are you aware of your legal obligations? Here I discuss travelling in the car with your dog; how to do it safely and what the law now dictates.
The Highway Code Rule 57 states: "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. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars."
I always find it surprising, even shocking at times, how people think it's acceptable to travel with their dog loose on the passenger/rear seats, or even wedged between the driver and passenger seats. If you need to brake suddenly or, worst case, crash at a significant speed, your dog isn't 'a dog' anymore, he/she could be, for example, a 20kg projectile hurtling around your car. There is a reason that it is the law for you to wear a seat belt, the same reasoning applies when securing other live animals. It is both for their own and for your safety. Even travelling with your dog in the rear of a hatchback can be perilous if you don't have a guard to prevent your dog from being thrown over the back seats in the event of a collision.
If ensuring your own safety and that of your pets, as well as complying with the law isn't motivation enough, how about a financial incentive to encourage you to take action? If you are in a road traffic accident and the fact that your pet was not adequately restrained is determined to be a mitigating factor in the collision, your insurance company is perfectly within its rights to invalidate any insurance claims. This would result in you being fully liable for any and all costs incurred by the crash.
As an extra point of interest, the same logic applies to other loose items in your car. You only need to speak to anyone that works in the emergency services and who has responded to a serious road traffic accident, to hear stories of how seemingly innocuous objects have become dangerous flying objects during a collision. This can include simple things such as magazines from the rear parcel shelf flying forward and embedding in the back of a passenger's head. It doesn't take much imagination to imagine what damage a dog could therefore do...