Thousands of van drivers could be risking a £5,000 fine by driving without properly securing their dogs in their vehicle, a new survey has found.
The study, commissioned by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, found that 41 per cent of van drivers who own dogs would rather take them to work than leave them at home or with a dogsitter.
However, a third of the 1,000 van drivers questioned admitted to improperly restraining their dogs when driving, which could lead to distractions behind the wheel and increase the possibility of an accident. In fact, one in 10 drivers have had an accident with a pet in the vehicle or know someone who has.
The Highway Code states that pets must be “suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly.”
Drivers found to be travelling while their pet is improperly secured in the vehicle face fines ranging from £1,000 for driving without proper control up to £5,000 and nine penalty points for careless driving.
In addition, if an insurer found out that an improperly secured pet was the cause of an accident, it’s likely that they wouldn’t pay out for a claim.
However, drivers can easily and safely secure their pets in the vehicle via a number of ways. A seat-belt harness can be used, while a pet carrier, dog cage or in the boot behind a dog guard are also sure-fire ways of keeping both driver and pet safe.
Dogs Trust has also revealed some key ways in which drivers can ensure that their pets are comfortable and safe.
Dogs must be secured in a harness, pet carrier, dog cage or behind a dog guard to ensure that they can’t interfere with the driver or hang out of windows.
Make the car a fun place to be
Dogs should be rewarded with their favourite treats when they’re calm near the vehicle – even if they’re just walking around it, to begin with. You should never leave your dog alone in the vehicle, and water should be brought whenever you travel with your pet.
Get your dog used to journeys
It’s a good idea to start with short, slow and familiar journeys with your dog in the vehicle to reinforce travel as a positive thing. It’s also advisable to have someone who is known by your dog to sit alongside them while travelling on the first few journeys.