As a nation of pet lovers, it’s perhaps no surprise that more than two thirds of UK drivers (69%) have travelled with their pet in the car, according to a uSwitch survey. But almost a fifth (19%) admit they’ve failed to secure their furry friend properly and let them roam free in the vehicle.
The Highway Code states that animals should be suitably restrained when travelling in a vehicle, but 34% of drivers are unaware that this rule exists. And as well as going against the rules of the road, letting pets roam free is also putting road users at risk.
More than a fifth (21%) said they had been distracted by their pet in the car while driving. Of those, 40% said they’ve taken their eyes off the road, while a fifth (21%) have even had an accident or near miss because of their pets. One in six said they had to perform an emergency stop to avoid a collision after their pet caused a distraction.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, dogs are most likely to hitch a lift with their humans, with 70% of drivers saying they’ve travelled with their dog in the car. More than a third (37%) have brought their cat along for a ride, while less conventional pets such as rabbits (8%), fish (6%) and parrots (2%) have also hit the road. Some people have even travelled with a pet snake (1%) or spider (1%) in their car.
Rather than using a suitable restraint suggested in the Highway Code, one in six drivers say they rely on passengers to keep hold of their pet while driving. A third (31%) let their pet stick their head out of the window, while 13% say their pet rides shotgun alongside the driver.
Rod Jones, insurance expert at uSwitch, said: “As a nation of animal lovers, it’s surprising to see so many drivers taking such a relaxed attitude to their pet’s wellbeing, never mind their own safety behind the wheel. As much as we love our pets, remember that securing your furry friend when driving is a legal requirement. The last thing you’d want to happen is to suffer an accident and only then find out that your insurer may not pay out.”
Take a look at our infographic below for tips on keeping your four-legged friend happy while travelling in a car: