How to Stay Safe and Avoid Fines on a Car Journey with your Pet
As a nation of animal lovers, our pets can be a huge part of our families. Whether it’s a lovable pup or a cuddly cat, we generally treat our pets as if they’re one of our children. However, you’d never let your child travel without a seatbelt, so why would you let your pet?
The Highway Code states that drivers need to ‘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’. Here at Asda Money, we want to make sure you and your furry friends are travelling as safely as possible whilst avoiding any unnecessary fines, so we’ve put together our top tips on how to take a car journey together.
How to Keep Pets Safe
If you’re taking your furry-friend on a car journey, whether for a day trip or to a kennels or cattery, there are many ways that you can keep them safe and secure. For small animals, such as cats and smaller dogs, pet carriers are ideal. They’re warm, cosy, and make a nice environment for your pet, whilst also not taking up too much space in the car. However, some pets might be resistant to getting inside such a small space. To avoid your pet getting anxious and playing up before the journey, introduce the carrier to your cat or small pup in advance so they can become familiar with it. When placing them in, pop the carrier on its back so the door is facing the ceiling, then lower them in rear-end first, so they don’t feel like they’re being forced into something. Also, it’s a great idea to put their favourite blanket in there to comfort them.
For medium and larger sized dogs, a harness attached to a seat belt is a much better option for travelling in a car. The harness works just like a human’s seat belt, which helps keep them stable in the car by restraining their movement. It’s best to get a harness rather than a collar to attach to the seat belt, as it means your pup will be comfortable yet restrained, without having anything attached to their neck. A collar around the neck could potentially cause whiplash and many other serious injuries in a crash. Some dogs may find these types of harnesses uncomfortable, so give them a chance to wear it indoors a couple of times before they travel in it for the first time.
Car barriers are perfect for bigger dogs, or animals who get agitated and restless when restrained. The purpose of the barrier is to block off a section of the car, usually the boot. This stops your pet from sneakily crawling around the rest of the car, but allows them to roam free in that section. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, so you can pick one to suit your car perfectly.
Video sourced from SkodaIreland
Rules and Regulations
Despite there being no actual laws in the UK on having pets in your car, there will be severe consequences if you aren’t travelling safely. Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that animals have to be suitably restrained, using either a seat belt, cage or pet carrier. If you let your dog or cat roam free in the car, it’s more likely that you’re going to get distracted, and possibly take your eyes off the road. If the worst does happen and you stop abruptly, your four-legged friend could be severely injured if they aren’t properly restrained.
If you’re caught by the police with a disruptive pet in the car, they could stop you for ‘driving without due care and attention’, and you could face a hefty fine, as well as up to nine points on your licence. In some extreme cases, you could even have your licence taken off you. Also, if you’re in a crash and it turns out that your pet was being disruptive, your car insurance might not pay out, so you’ll be left to pay for any damage to your car, any other vehicles involved, and any medical bills resulting from the accident. So, if you do happen to see a dog with its head out of the window or a cat sat on the driver’s lap, let the police know immediately.
Top Tips Before You Set Off
Before travelling anywhere with your pet, here are our top tips for preparation:
• If you’re going on a long journey, try to avoid feeding your pet within the 2 hours prior to leaving, as a full tummy could result in them feeling car sick.
• Whether it’s a long or short trip, always pack your pet’s favourite toy, to offer them entertainment and to make them feel more comfortable if they get anxious.
• During the summer months, buy some sun shades to cover the windows, or safely keep the windows open a little bit, as your furry friend may get hot in the car.
• No matter what the weather, make sure you always carry a large bottle of water in case of a break down, or just in case your pet gets too hot on the journey.
Before you travel anywhere with your pet, be sure to get pet insurance to cover them for any accidents or illnesses.
Here at Asda Money we have a range of pet insurance cover types available. Find out more about Asda Money Pet Insurance underwritten by Fairmead Insurance here.