Drivers could fetch fines for loose animals

Drivers could fetch fines for loose animals
Animal-loving motorists are being warned they face heavy fines if they don’t buckle down their pets in the car — and could even invalidate their insurance.

The warning comes as a new study reveals nearly two thirds (64%) of UK motorists are unaware that driving with an unrestrained pet could lead to a fine of up to £5,000.

The study also found that less than half (48%) of pet owners know that driving without properly restraining their animal could invalidate their car insurance policy, leaving them without cover in the event of an accident.

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As many families head off on half-term getaways with their pets, drivers are being warned to take precautions to keep themselves, their animals and other road users safe on the roads.

Driving with an unrestrained pet can cause dangerous distractions for motorists if the animal panics or moves around the cabin, which could lead to them interfering with driving controls and injuring themselves and other occupants in the event of a crash. 

Rule 57 of the Highway Code 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.”

READ MORE: Traveling with your dog in the car – do’s and don’ts

And while there is no direct penalty for driving with an unrestrained pet, motorists could face charges of driving without due care and attention if they get distracted by their animals behind the wheel.

A charge of this nature could come with a fine of £1,000 and penalty points, but if the case goes to court drivers could face fines of up to £5,000 and nine penalty points on their licence.

Runa Hanaghan, the deputy veterinary director of The Dogs Trust, said it was important that pet owners restrain their animals in the car for both their own and their pet’s safety.

She said: “If an accident happens, the dog can be thrown forward and injured. It can also act like a missile within the vehicle and hit other occupants.”

SEE ALSO: Pets and breakdowns — what you need to do

The Highway Code recommends drivers use seatbelt harnesses, pet carriers, dog cages or dog guards as ways of restraining animals in vehicles.

To ensure the welfare of pets, drivers should carry a large water bottle in case of overheating and ensure that pets are never left in cars in warmer temperatures.

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

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