With the roads expected to be busy this Coronation bank holiday weekend, motorists should be extra cautious when driving, especially with pets. Rules 47 to 58 of the Highway Code address how drivers should deal with animals when on the road and how to safely drive near them in the case of horse riders.
Rule 57 states that dogs and other animals are “suitably restrained” so they cannot distract the driver, injure anyone or injure themselves in the event of a sudden stop.
Ways to restrain animals within the car can include a seat belt harness, pet carrier or dog guard.
Louise Thomas, car insurance expert at Confused.com, said: “The Coronation weekend is the perfect chance to head out on a day trip or staycation to visit friends and family.
“And if you have a pet, taking them with you will really feel like you have the whole family together.
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“And with pets a beloved part of the family for millions of drivers, it’s likely that pets will be a popular passenger this coming weekend.
“When travelling, the safety of your pet is just as important as others in the vehicle.”
In the event of a breakdown, pets should be left in the vehicle or kept under proper control on the verge in the event of an emergency.
Most recovery companies will allow motorists to bring their pets into the cabin with them, and if not, the company will make alternative arrangements.
While it may be a common sight on the roads in the summer, having a dog hang their head out of the window can be very dangerous.
When a dog is hanging its head out of the window, it can get debris or dirt in its eyes, nose or mouth.
If someone were to drive with pets which weren’t properly restrained, they could be at risk of penalty points on their driving licence and even invalidate their car insurance.
Louise Thomas added: “And if caught driving dangerously, they could face fines up to £5,000.
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“That’s why if drivers are travelling with pets over the bank holiday, they should ensure they have the right precautions in place.”
In extreme circumstances, animals can stop the driver from concentrating on the road and lead to driving without “due care and attention”.
This will lead to a mandatory driving disqualification of at least 12 months and could even result in a custodial sentence, according to the AA.
Pet owners should feed their animals at least two hours before they travel given that pets travel better on an emptier stomach.
If they have recently been fed, they will have more energy and could be more distracting for the driver, any passengers and maybe even other road users.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) recommends that an animal does not travel if they are seriously ill or injured.
If someone is taking their pet on a long journey for the first time, it is advised for them to acclimatise the pet the day before to make the trip less stressful.
According to Auto Trader, one-third of British drivers who own dogs did not know the Highway Code rules for travelling with animals.