Most people who own a pet have took it on car journeys with them, and it’s a favourite sight of many to see cute dogs hanging out of car windows! However, the majority of pet owners are unaware of the rules of driving with a pet, and could face a hefty fine or even have their vehicle insurance cancelled.

Driving with animals is not illegal but motorists do need to be aware of the strict rules before bringing along their furry friends on the next road trip.

Following the Highway Code

Having a pet in the car can act as a distraction while driving, which is why the consequences can be so severe. If you aren’t paying your full attention to the road because your dog is bouncing around or being sick, then you could cause a traffic accident.
In The Highway Code there is a section referring to pets, which says dogs and other animals must be “suitably restrained” while travelling in the car. This is to prevent them from distracting motorists while driving, and also to stop them injuring themselves if you need to stop quickly. Using a dog cage or pet carrier is recommended, or you can even use a seatbelt harness.

If you plan on taking your four legged companions along for the ride, make sure you obey the law – or you could face serious consequences.

Penalties of Driving with Unrestricted Pets

It is probably unlikely you’ll get stopped just for having an animal in your vehicle which is not obviously restrained. However, if you’re seen to be distracted by your pet in the car, you could be hit with an on-the-spot £100 fine. If this isn’t paid, the maximum fine for being distracted while driving is £5000.

That’s not the only thing to worry about. Most insurance policies do not cover motorists driving with an unrestricted pet. That means if you’re involved in an accident, your fault or not, insurers can refuse to pay out because of your pet. Furthermore pets aren’t usually covered in car insurance policies, so if they are injured in an accident you won’t receive any compensation for their healthcare.

Driving with a distraction such as an unpredictable pet which is free to roam about the vehicle isn’t worth the risk. If you like to take your dog to work or drive your kitty to your friend’s house when you stay over, be sure to keep them suitably restrained for the entire journey.

For more driving advice and all your vehicle repair needs, visit the Windmill Garage blog.

Do you Drive with a Pet?