Whilst millions of us in the United Kingdom drive with our canine companions in the car with us every day, can we all be sure that we are doing so safely? Recent research suggests that a large proportion of dog owners are unaware of the correct safety procedures required for transporting their four-legged friends in the car, suggesting that many of us are breaking Rule 57 of the Highway Code and therefore could face fines of up to £5,000 for careless driving with an unrestrained pet. So what is Rule 57 and what does it mean for pet owners?
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that all animals when travelling in a vehicle on the road need to be suitably restrained so that they cannot cause any distraction to drivers, injure you or be injured themselves should you need to perform an emergency stop. Therefore, if your dog is not suitably and safely restrained within your vehicle, they potentially could cause a triple threat to drivers, other road users and themselves.
Whilst Rule 57 does not state outright the methods of restraint, it is suggested that however well-behaved your dog is when loose in the car, that if unrestrained it could still potentially cause one or more of the potential threats above. Therefore, if you do not use one of the following safety methods for your pet in the car then it is assumed you are in breach of Rule 57 of the Highway Code. So what methods are suitable and which pets would these be suitable for? Scamps and Champs cover the main methods of vehicle restraint for pets below in our helpful four-step guide.
Existing seatbelts for us humans can also be useful for our pets. They are already there and don’t cost you a penny – so why not use them? Seatbelts can be used to securely fasten cat boxes, small animal carriers and dog crates firmly in place on the back seat of the car. Whilst you can carry animals in the front of the car physically, it is not recommended as they can cause distraction to the driver and potentially come to severe harm should there be an accident.
2. Pet Seatbelts
Pet seatbelts can be purchased from veterinary practices, retail pet stores and online. They are readily available from multiple sellers on stores such as www.amazon.co.uk and www.ebay.co.uk. In addition, if you have an existing safety method in place and you are willing to wait a few weeks for your product to arrive, pet seatbelts can be purchased via these websites from sellers based within the product’s manufacturing country. So if cost is an issue for you there is an option available for everyone, as a quality product can be purchased for as little as £1 including postage and will be delivered directly to your home from China, for example, providing premium pet safety at a bargain cost. So there is no excuse not to have your pets safely secured and to travel in accordance with the Highway Code.
You can purchase harnesses for most animals, however this option would be most suitable for your dogs. Harnesses are widely available in stores and online, at a variety of prices and in a variety of styles. The important thing is to ensure that you purchase the correct size for your dog, or this can be a safety issue for your beloved pet in itself. It is recommended that you use a harness and not a pet seatbelt attached to a collar, as if an emergency stop were to occur you need your pet’s body to remain secure. If the full impact of an emergency stop was to occur with your pet attached via its collar then this could cause significant and even fatal damage to your pet’s neck and therefore this isn’t viewed as an acceptable method of restraint.
4. Crates or Animal Carriers
Smaller animals are best to be transported in a crate or animal carrier, as they provide less room for movement and also block the visual elements of the road, which can be extremely frightening for small animals. In addition, the more secure exterior provides additional safety for your animals in the event of an accident and can be additionally secured to the car seat with your existing seatbelts in order to minimise movement.
So you have been suitably informed on Rule 57 of the highway code and the suitable methods of safety restraints for animals, including cost effective options available to everyone, you can all enjoy traveling with your pets safely! Happy travelling pet-lovers!
For further safety advice for your pets and for a full range of our Scamps and Champs services, please go to our main website. Please contact us to check availability or to ask any questions you may have.