Drivers risk £2,500 fine for not buckling up pets

Buckle up your pets or face a hefty fine.
Buckle up your pets or face a hefty fine.

A surge in traffic is expected this Easter Bank Holiday as 21 million drivers are predicted to hit the roads, but some motorists are risking £2,500 in fines for not buckling up their pets.

Undoubtedly, pets will be a popular companion on road trips this Easter weekend, but new research shows many drivers are failing to restrain their furry friends before setting off.

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The research by Confused.com reveals a third (34%) of pet-owning motorists aren’t buckling up their four-legged travel companions when driving in the car.

However, drivers might think twice about letting their pets loose if they were aware it could land them a hefty fine.

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Almost two thirds (64%) of UK drivers do not realise they could be punished with a £200 fine for driving without proper control of the car(3) and, in some cases, up to £2,500 for driving without due car and attention.

But the penalties don’t stop there. Drivers convicted of these offences may also receive up to nine points on their licence and could potential be disqualified from driving.

And it could hit drivers where they least expect it when it comes to making a claim, as car insurance providers have the right to invalidate polices if drivers are distracted or not in control of the car in the event of an accident.

Worryingly, more than half (52%) of pet-owning motorists are unaware of this.

The punishments for driving with an unrestrained pet are severe due to the potentially danger it can impose on the driver and other road users. In fact, one in 10 (10%) motorists have been in an accident while a pet was in the car, or know someone who has.

It’s surprising these figures aren’t higher, almost a tenth (8%) of drivers have had to try and prevent an accident while they were travelling with their pet in the car. These actions include swerving, emergency braking or physically holding their pet down.

But it isn’t just drivers, passengers and other road users at risk when a loose pet roams about the car. In fact, not buckling up your dog, cat or other pet puts the animal itself in harm’s way. And with dogs proving to be the most popular driving companion (65%),

Some drivers have landed themselves in a tricky situation due to leaving their pets roaming around their cars.

One driver said they lost their excitable dog out of the car window when stopped stationary at traffic lights after seeing children playing outside. Another found themselves on the receiving end of a fine after letting their pooch climb on to the front seat. And cats are equally as mischievous, with one driver reporting that their feline friend settled in the foot well beside the pedals after escaping from its box.

Drivers who don’t buckle up their pets are in breach of the Highway Code, which states motorists should suitably restrain all animals while driving in the car in order to preserve their safety, as well as the safety of the driver, passengers and other road users.

Effective methods of restraint, according to the Highway Code, include using a specialist seatbelt, shutting pets in a secure cage or carrier, or using a boot guard to separate pets from other passengers.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “With 21 million drivers taking to the road this Easter, undoubtedly many will be joined by four-legged companions as they set off on trips across the UK. But drivers must restrain their dogs properly, or they could receive fines up to £2,500.

“Driving with an unrestrained pet can also invalidate your car insurance, meaning having to personally pay out for repairs in the event of a claim. Drivers should read our go-to guide to make sure they are complying with the law and keeping their pets as safe as possible.”