- Two thirds (69%) of drivers have travelled with a pet in their car but almost a fifth (19%) don’t secure them when driving and let it roam free in the vehicle
- A further one in five (21%) admit to being distracted by their furry companion when driving
- When distracted by their pets, four in ten (40%) drivers have taken their eyes off the road, a fifth (21%) have had an accident or near-miss with another motorist and 17% needed to perform an emergency stop as a result
- A third of drivers (34%) are unaware that the Highway Code states that animals must be properly secured in a vehicle when moving
- uSwitch.com asks drivers to ensure pets are safely restrained on any road trips they are planning to take this Bank Holiday.
Britain is a nation of pet lovers, to the extent that two thirds (69%) of drivers travel with their pet in the car. Yet, almost a fifth (19%) are breaking the Highway Code and potentially invalidating their car insurance by letting their pets roam freely in their vehicle, according to new research from uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service.
By not securing their pets in the vehicle, drivers are putting both themselves and other road users at risk, with over a fifth (21%) admitting to being distracted by their pet when driving. Of those distracted two in five (40%) admit to taking their eyes off the road, a fifth (21%) have had an accident or a near miss while one in six (17%) have had to perform an emergency stop to avoid a collision.
The Highway Code states that any animals travelling in a moving vehicle must be suitably restrained – yet a third of drivers (34%) are unaware that this rule exists.
13% of drivers allow their pet to ride shotgun, while a third (31%) let their pet stick its head out of the window while moving. One in six (15%) rely on fellow passengers to hold the animal rather than use a proper restraint.
Dogs and cats are the most common pets to have hitched a lift with seven in ten (70%) and a third (37%) of motorists having travelled with them, respectively. Less conventional pets to have been driven around include rabbits (8%), fish (6%) and parrots (2%) – some people have even transported their pet snake in their car (1%).
|Pets hitching a ride||% of drivers|
Source: uSwitch.com research April 2017
Rod Jones, insurance expert at uSwitch.com, 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 when behind the wheel. As much as we love our pets, remember that securing your furry friend when driving is a requirement in the Highway Code. The last thing you’d want to happen is to suffer an accident and only then find that your insurer may not pay out.
“If you’re planning on hitting the road with your pet, make sure you take the necessary precautions to keep you both safe. There are a number of different options available to secure your pet and stop them distracting you, from cages which fit in the boot to specialist safety harnesses. Choose what works best for you and your four-legged friend.”
To help motorists create the perfect driving experience for their pets and passengers alike, Dr Roger Mugford animal psychologist and founder of The Company of Animals has provided top tips for securing your pet on the road:
“Travelling with a pet in the car doesn’t need to be a stressful experience for you or your pet.
Make sure your dog is well exercised before travelling so that he will be more inclined to rest during the journey. For a longer journey, take regular breaks so that your dog can get comfortable and stretch his legs in the fresh air! The use of a pet crate, guard or dog safety restraint such as the CarSafe harness is recommended for keeping your pet safe and under control when in the car.”
Top tips for driving with your pet:
- Don’t feed your dog within two hours of starting a long car journey as this may make him feel carsick.
- It is a good idea to pack a favourite toy or blanket to give your pet a sense of familiarity.
- Make sure fresh and preferably cool water is always readily available.
- Use sun shades on the windows when it is hot or the sun is bright. Sitting in a patch of blinding sun and being unable to move is no more comfortable for your dog than it is you!
- Never leave your dog in a hot car! Dogs can become dangerously overheated inside a parked vehicle and at risk of dehydration, sunstroke or even death. When the outside temperature is just 20 degrees the temperature inside a closed car in the sun can rise to 45 degrees in minutes.
- Always carry a large water bottle (5 litres minimum) in case your dog overheats and needs to be rapidly cooled in an emergency.
- Don’t allow your pet to ride with his head hanging out of the window, this is potentially dangerous and he could be injured.
- Always leave a lead on your dog in the car so he can be instantly controlled in an emergency situation. It is wise to train your dog to wait to exit the car until told as you don’t want him bounding out of the car in a busy area.
- Many dogs suffer from anxiety when travelling, so keep initial journeys short for puppies and extend them as they mature. If your dog continues to show anxiety during travel seek the advice of a canine behaviourist.
|Driving with pets||% of drivers|
|I’ve taken my eyes off the road||40%|
|I’ve had to perform and emergency stop||17%|
|I’ve had a near miss with another car/pedestrian||14%|
|I’ve had to swerve suddenly on the road||11%|
|The car crashed||7%|
|The pet escaped from the car||4%|
Source: uSwitch.com research April 2017
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