‘They cannot distract you’: Motorists warned of fines and jail time when driving with pets

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In the UK, it is not illegal for a driver to leave their pet alone in their car. However, if something was to happen as a result of leaving them, drivers could face massive consequences.

This includes an animal cruelty charge and an unlimited fine.

In some instances, they could even receive a six-month jail sentence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Motorists are also warned about driving more safely with their pets, as two-thirds of drivers could be fined.

Most drivers have admitted to not driving safely with a pet could land a hefty fine and penalty points.

Drivers deemed distracted by their pets could be given a £1,000 on-the-spot fine for careless driving.

This could include allowing a dog to hang its head out the window on a hot day.

For this breach, there is a maximum fine of up to £5,000 and nine penalty points, depending on the severity of the breach.

Drivers also risk causing an accident on the road by failing to restrain their pet. 

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In extreme cases, breaking this rule could also result in a driving ban and a compulsory re-test.

Mike Thompson, Chief Operating Officer at Leasing Options, highlighted the dangers of driving with animals.

He said: “You should never leave a pet in a car even with the windows open on a hot day. 

“There is likely little airflow, even in the shade, to provide adequate cooling for your pet.

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“The temperature inside a vehicle can double in less than an hour even with windows open.”

Earlier this year, Rule 57 was introduced to the Highway Code which addresses driving with animals.

It states: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. 

“A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

To avoid being fined, Vanarama has warned motorists to remember a few key things when travelling with their pets, especially in the warmer weather.

Dogs should be kept in the back seat or the boot as they are less likely to be seriously injured if there is a car accident.

If they do need to sit in the front seat for miscellaneous reasons, they should have a harness on and the seat should be as far back as it can be.

Child locks should also be used to make sure a pet doesn’t accidentally open a window or a door.

Additionally, most pet owners prefer to use a harness, but they must make sure it’s not too tight.

Motorists should be able to comfortably get two fingers between the harness and their pet.

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