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Carrying your pet safely in your vehicle

Safe driving demands your full attention and an unobstructed view of the road; anything less increases the risk of a collision and potential injury.

We all know that using a mobile phone at the wheel and other in-vehicle distractions are significant risk factors, but have you thought about the importance of carrying your pet safely in your vehicle?

It’s an issue often overlooked, but even the most well behaved animal can become frightened by something unusual and react in a way which compromises the safety of the driver, passengers and other road users.

Teresa Ciano, GoSafe Partnership Manager and Chair of Road Safety Wales, gave the following advice to pet owners:

“It is vital to ensure that your pet is safely secured, using a seatbelt harness, a pet carrier, a dog cage, or a dog guard when travelling in a vehicle. In the event of a collision, an unrestrained pet can become a dangerous projectile, continuing their forward motion at force within the vehicle interior and striking other occupants.

Road Safety Wales is reminding drivers to check that pets are safely secured before every journey.”

The forces involved in a collision make the consequences significant - at 30mph, an unrestrained dog weighing 50lb (22½kg) would be thrown forward with a force equivalent to almost nine 12 stone (80kg) people. The potential for serious harm to your dog and people in the vehicle can be mitigated by safely securing your pet using the correct restraint.

Teresa Ciano added:

“If a collision occurs when a pet is loose in the vehicle, they could escape, be hit by another vehicle or cause a further collision.

To protect your pet, choose a position in the vehicle where they won’t be injured if an airbag deploys and don’t allow them to travel with their head out of the window - not only will they be exposed to grit and debris, there is a risk of them jumping or falling from the vehicle or being hit by an oncoming vehicle or object.”

Wayne Tucker, Road Safety Officer at South Wales Police said:

“During our recent Operation Options interventions, where we educate and inform road users on the importance of wearing seatbelts, we have identified a number of drivers with pets unsecured in the vehicle.

We have also observed small dogs travelling while sat on the driver’s lap, something which is extremely dangerous and particularly concerning.  Drivers are putting themselves at risk of being prosecuted for not being in proper control of their vehicle, which carries a fine and endorsement on their licence.

It is essential that drivers secure their pets correctly – you are protecting them, yourself and other road users.”