Dog Car Safety Laws

Author: Amy Holloway

It’s estimated that one third of UK drivers are not complying with the law when it comes to restraining their dog in the car whilst driving, and are risking a fine of up to £2,500, according to recent research. These drivers are also putting their pets’ lives and themselves at risk.

Rule 57 of the Highway Code 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.”

Alarmingly, the research states that 34% of drivers fail to restrain pet passengers, 1 in 10 allow their pets to sit in the front seat of the car, while a further 9% of drivers allow their pet to sit on the back seat without a harness.

The research, carried out by, shows that 64% of drivers are unaware that having an unrestrained pet passenger is punishable with a fine. Drivers who fail to restrain their pets whilst driving may also be incriminating themselves by driving without proper control of a motor vehicle or driving without due care and attention.

Risking lives & invalidating your insurance

If you should have an accident or have to make a sudden stop, an unrestrained pet could be thrown forward and injure themselves and potentially injure you or other passengers.

Furthermore, car insurance providers reserve the right to invalidate policies if a driver is involved in an accident with an unrestrained pet.’s research shows that 10% of drivers involved in an accident would result in having their policy invalidated.

Don’t risk it, take steps today to safeguard you and your pets.

Top tips on how to restrain your dog safely in your car

Crates and pet carriers:

  • You will find a wide range of suitable pet carriers and crates available in pet stores and online, in a variety of sizes to suit most pets and cars.
  • A crate should ideally be placed in the boot of your car, or secured on the back seat.
  • A small pet carrier could also be placed in the passenger seat footwell, but never on the seat itself as here your pet will be at risk from the airbag deploying.

Harness and seatbelt:

  • If you prefer the idea of a harness and seatbelt, again check your local pet stores and online retailers for the right size to suit your pet.
  • Always clip your pet’s seatbelt into the back seat of your car, never the front, and use a harness so that you can clip the seatbelt to the D-ring on that rather than your pet’s collar, which can risk injury to their neck should you have to stop suddenly.
  • Most pet seatbelts come in adjustable lengths – check it’s not too long and will protect your pet from being thrown off the seat.
  • You can also get a rear seat protector/cover that clips onto the front and rear head rests, creating a cradle that will stop your pet falling into the rear footwells – ensure it has a space to connect your seatbelts through. Alternatively, you could place some cushions in your rear seat footwells to protect your pet should they slip over the edge of the seat.
  • If you are going to have your window down a little, make sure your dog can’t climb out and risk hanging outside whilst still clipped in.

If you would like any further advice on travelling in the car with your dog or any other pet, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or ask a member of our team.