Driving lesson

Driving with your dog in the car could land you a £5,000 fine

Drivers traveling with their pets could be breaking traffic laws – and many of them could be fined on the spot.

The rules of the road state that dogs must be properly restrained when traveling by car so that they cannot distract the driver or injure themselves or the motorist.

Failure to comply could lead to a fine of up to £2,500 for a motorist for driving without care and attention.

The rules of the road state that a “seat belt harness, pet transport cage, crate or dog guard are means of restraining animals in cars”.

Mark Tongue, car expert at Select Car Leasing, told the Mirror: ‘Most dog owners will know that they must keep their pet properly restrained when in a car as required by traffic regulations. .

“But many owners are unsure whether or not dogs are allowed in the front seat. It’s something of a gray area.



The rules of the road state that a “seat belt harness, pet transport cage, crate or dog guard are means of restraining animals in cars”.

“Although not particularly recommended, dogs should generally be in the backseat or trunk for their own safety.

“You should only have your dog with you while driving if you are able and know how to deactivate the front passenger airbag, as some vehicles do not have an override feature.

“Failure to deactivate the airbag could result in catastrophic injury to a dog. An airbag is designed to protect a human, not a dog, and the padding is simply in the wrong place.

“When an airbag deploys, it does so with such force that it could even crush a dog crate.”

The deactivation of the front passenger airbag differs depending on the vehicle manufacturer and model.

To turn it off, you will usually find the switch either in the glove box or located on the left side of the passenger dashboard.

If you can’t find any, shotgun trips for your bullet-hunting friend should be banned.

Tongue adds that if you plan to transport your dog in the front of your car, be sure to move the seat as far back as possible, minimizing the risk of the dog hitting the glove box or windshield when driving. a collision.

“We recommend that you don’t let your dog stick his head out the window,” he explains.



The risk is a fine of up to £5,000 for 'reckless driving' as well as the risk of an accident on the road.
The risk is a fine of up to £5,000 for ‘reckless driving’ as well as the risk of an accident on the road.

“Not only does this potentially illustrate that the animal is not being properly restrained, but there is also the obvious risk of its head coming into contact with something, such as a bush or tree, resulting in a serious injury.

“And make no mistake, if your dog isn’t properly restrained and it distracts him, you could be prosecuted.”

Recent research from the Dogs Trust found that 76% of dogs have no formal training in how to behave in the car, while only 60% of people believe it is dangerous to have an unrestrained dog in the car. car.

They advise dogs not to travel in the front of the car and the Trust suggests ensuring a dog is well hydrated before a trip.

If you’ve just gotten your dog used to the car for the first time, make sure you bring something reassuring, like a blanket or toy, that carries their scent.

And start with short rides before moving on to longer ones – and always try to find rides with a positive association at the end, like a walk in the woods, rather than a trip to the vet!

What is the risk?

The risk is a fine of up to £5,000 for ‘reckless driving’ as well as the risk of an accident on the road.

Rachel Wait, at MoneySuperMarket, explains: “When you’re driving with your pet in your car – whether in the trunk or in a seat – it can seem like a harmless way to get from point A to point A. B, the truth is, you can risk invalidating your car insurance. .

“If you get caught in a trap with an unrestrained pet in your car, insurers can use it against you – whether or not it’s a direct result of the pet itself – so it’s well worth seeking out.” ‘be careful and make sure man’s best friend’ is properly restrained.

“Always read your policy in full to ensure you have the right level of cover for your needs. If not, shop around to see if you’re getting the best deal – you could save up to £245 a year just by switching providers, and it doesn’t take long to do.”

What the law says

Depending on traffic laws, unrestrained pets can cause accidents, near-misses, or emergency stops.

It states: “When you are in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are properly restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure or injure you if you stop quickly.

“A seat belt harness, pet carrier, crate, or dog guard are ways to restrain pets in cars.”

And although there is no direct penalty for breaking the rules of the road, if you are seen to be distracted on the road you can be fined £1,000 on the spot for ‘reckless driving’. This carries a maximum fine of £5,000 and nine penalty points depending on the severity of it.

In extreme cases, the incident could also lead to a driving ban and a mandatory retest.

The law recommends a seat belt harness, pet carrier, crate, or dog guard as a way to restrain your pet while driving.