Dog’s are a man’s best friend, we are told, and one study makes one think that just might be true, finding that 54% of drivers experienced a positive effect from driving with dogs. The positive effects of driving with dogs are more pronounced for young drivers: over two thirds of drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 drive more safely with a dog in the car. Notably, the 18-24 age group is the most at-risk group in the UK. Drivers in the London and south-east areas were most receptive to the impact of a dog on their driving. Stress levels were also reduced with a dog in the car. Yet, over a third of drivers are unaware of the regulations governing driving with pets: a third of drivers are unaware that they risk a £5,000 fine and invalidating their insurance if their petl is left unrestrained.
The Daily Mail discusses these findings, which, one must say, are very surprising. SEAT UK, a Spanish firm, is responsible for this study. SEAT’s Nigel Griggs is quoted as saying, “Everyone knows the British public is passionate about dogs. However, this study confirms that having their best friend in the car can contribute to safer driving while also having a positive mental health benefit by reducing stress. It appears to be a win-win.”
Surprisingly, older drivers were least affected with a pet dog on board, with 42% of drivers the age of 55 said travelling with pets makes them drive carefully.
The ignorance of drivers as to the regulations governing pets in the car, is surprising given the number of drivers who choose to drive with pets. For example, it is illegal for your pets to hang their heads out of the windows of your car, according to the Highway Code. Pets must, as we said, be restrained. A pet seatbelt or carrier can stop your dog from moving around in the car and distracting you whilst you drive. There are lots of different products out there:
- Pet seatbelts
- Crates and carriers
- Boot/luggage guards (be aware that these protect your passengers in an accident but won’t protect your pet).
Many products aren’t crash tested so might not offer your pet the best protection in an accident. You might want to choose a crash-tested product instead:
- SleepyPod Clickit Support Harness
- SleepyPod Carrier
- Gunner Kennel GI Intermediate.
These three products have all been tested and certified by the Centre for Pet Safety. They’re more expensive than a lot of other products available but might give you more peace of mind, especially if you often travel with your pet. Speak to your veterinarian about what is right for your pet.
Unrestrained pets are distracticting and can be as distracting as texting while driving. The official advice from the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is that dogs (and other animals) should be secure and comfortable during transport. If you plan to drive with an animal in your car at any point in the future, then it’s important to get an appropriate way of securing them comfortably as soon as you can.