Little-known Highway Code rule may lead to a £5,000 fine
A new survey has found that over a third of British drivers who own dogs don’t know the Highway Code’s requirement to restrain pets in the car. Failing to do so can lead to drivers receiving a hefty fine of £5,000 with experts urging people to be safe when driving.
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that motorists need to make sure dogs and other animals are suitably restrained.
This is so that they cannot distract someone when driving or injure the driver, or themselves, in the event of a sudden stop.
A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.
If a driver causes an accident because of a dog or another animal distracting them, they could face a £5,000 fine for careless driving.
As part of their Canine Car Report, Auto Trader set out to discover how many Britons are aware of the rules around safely travelling with pets.
The research found that 34 percent of British drivers who owned dogs had no idea about the relevant Highway Code rules.
The report found that of those claiming to be up to speed on the Highway Code’s requirements for taking to the road with their four-legged friends, only 56 percent knew the correct rules.
Adam Spivey, Director and Master Trainer at Southend Dog Training, urged drivers to keep their dogs suitably restrained in the car, saying it was of “utmost importance”.
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He added: “The reality is, if you have a crash or have to slam on the brakes and the dog is not suitably restrained, then your dog is going to act as a projectile, which could result in a horrible scenario, even causing fatalities.
“We understand the safety regulations of a baby being properly seated in a car; we must understand the same applies to dogs too.
“A crash-tested impact crate is the safest way for any dog to travel – it is something you see the police use with their dogs.
“However, if you can’t do that for any reason then at the very least you must use a very secure seatbelt attachment for your dog.”
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Of the 44 percent who answered incorrectly, the majority thought that Rule 57 was either preventing dogs from travelling in the front seat or not allowing pets to stick their head out of the window.
The survey also found that on top of those who are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to knowing the Highway Code, almost a quarter of drivers with dogs said that they don’t restrain their pets with a harness or cage when they are driving.
Erin Baker, editorial director from Auto Trader, said that drivers should familiarise themselves with the rules before hitting the road with their pets.
She added: “As our dogs can get easily get distracted by things happening outside of the car, their reactions could lead to distracting the driver, which can cause road accidents.
“Not only does this put your pet at risk of, but also yourself, your vehicle and others on the road.
“It’s vital that drivers find appropriate harnesses and pet guards – whatever restraint their dog responds best to – and use them for every journey, no matter how far they are travelling.”
Other Highway Code rules dictate what drivers can do when on the road with their pets. For example, Rule 56 states that drivers should not let a dog out on the road on its own.
It should be kept on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders.
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