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3 September 2009

The Cuddly Killer - Pets in Cars

- Research uncovers almost half of drivers don?t restrain their pets
- More than 70% of motorists don?t realise they could be fined
- Drivers in Yorkshire and the Humber are worst for not restraining pets in cars
- In an accident a family dog can smash through the windscreen with a one tonne force

As a nation of animal lovers motorists in the UK regularly transport pampered pooches and favoured felines when taking a trip in the car, however new research results launched today show that a staggering 40 per cent of drivers don?t restrain their pets at all when they are on the road ? risking a crash because they?re distracted and possibly being crushed by their beloved animal.

The new research revealed today by Autoglass also found that seven out of ten motorists (71%) don?t realise they can receive a fine or even points on their licence if police officers see that a dog is unrestrained in the car ? particularly if it is moving around and distracting the driver. Those motorists surveyed seem uncertain about the law with 44 per cent of those questioned unsure whether it is illegal to have pets unrestrained and whether any laws apply.

While the survey results show that women are more careful with 36 per cent driving with unrestrained animals, almost half of men would risk having a loose pet on board (46%). The statistics also show a distinct north/south divide, with the top three regions in the country regularly risking having pets loose in the car are in the north of the UK:

1. Yorkshire & Humber
2. Scotland
3. North East
4. Wales
5. South West
6. North West
7. London
8. West Midlands
9. South East
10. East Anglia

The law on travelling with pets in cars is far from straight forward as there is no law against it however the Highway Code states that ?motorists should make sure that dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while driving or injure you or themselves if you stop quickly?.

However police officers can fine motorists and possibly issue penalty points for driving without due care and attention if an animal is jumping around the vehicle distracting the driver - in a similar way if a motorist was caught using a mobile phone.

Apart from the distraction element if a vehicle is forced to stop suddenly, anything unrestrained will be catapulted forward at the same speed the vehicle was travelling. For example at 30mph a dog will be thrown forward at 30mph and will hit whatever is in front of them, such as the windscreen, or possibly other passengers.

During a 30mph accident the animal?s body weight also increases by more than 30 times. This means that an average family Labrador sat on the back seat would be thrown forward with a one tonne weight ? easily injuring those in the front.

Nigel Doggett, managing director of Autoglass, says: ?Having anything in the vehicle that will distract the driver is obviously dangerous and in the case of unrestrained pets this danger is two fold as apart from the risk of causing an accident, in the event of a collision any dog not restrained could crush the driver or passengers.

?Drivers don?t always realise they can face hefty fines if caught, for example last year one driver in North Tyneside was fined ?300 after a speed camera photographed him with a Chihuahua on his lap while driving.

We would always advise motorists not to take this unnecessary risk as it could result in harming you and your pet. Always think sensibly about transporting pets and ensure they are restrained whether this is via a cage, harness or dog guards.?

PDSA supports the Autoglass message for people to properly restrain their pets when travelling. PDSA Senior Vet Elaine Pendlebury explains: ?Travelling with a pet brings with it many responsibilities. One of the most important is making sure that any pets are properly restrained in a car to help keep you, any passengers, and your pet safe from harm in the event of an accident.

?Having a pet on the loose in the car is a recipe for disaster. I have lost count of the amount of times I have seen dogs sat up front with their owners or hanging their head out of the car window.  I even saw a driver once with a cat draped around his shoulders and quite a few dogs on the back passenger ledge!  While this might seem like a bit of fun, the consequences for drivers, pedestrians and the pets could be fatal if there?s an accident. Preparation, by using pet seat belts or appropriately sized carriers for smaller pets, and common sense, are key when your pet travels in the car with you. As a treasured member of the family, your pet deserves to enjoy a happy and safe journey too.?

Autoglass is the UK?s leading vehicle glass repair and replacement service, with 109 branches nationwide and 1,200 mobile service units.  For details of your nearest centre call 0800 36 36 36  or visit www.Autoglass.co.uk. For further advice on pet safety visit www.pdsa.org.uk.

 

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