Van drivers risk £5,000 fine if dog isn’t secured

Article by Team Dogby

The Dogby team is spread across the UK, each working from home with their own canine companions.

More than four in every ten van drivers prefer to take their dog to work with them rather than leave their pet at home alone or with a dog sitter. But they risk a fine of up to £5,000 and potentially invalidating their insurance by not ensuring their pet is restrained securely while on the move.

It’s in the Highway Code

Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that pets must be “suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.”

The punishment for failing to do so can range from up to £1,000 for driving without proper control to £5,000 and nine points for careless driving. A conviction also means that potentially an insurer invalidates the driver’s policy.

There are a number of ways to safely secure your pet in the van, including a comfortably sized seatbelt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or in the boot behind a dog-guard. Yet almost one in three van drivers do not safely restrain their dog while on the road, a study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has found.

Accidents with dogs in the car are not uncommon

It revealed 41% of van drivers who own dogs prefer to take them to work. 29% admitted to not restraining them securely and one in ten drivers has had an accident while travelling in a vehicle with a pet or knows someone who has, according to insurance website confused.com.

Kate Thompson, head of marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “After such an extended period at home last year, we know that, now more than ever, van drivers do not want to leave their dogs at home or with dog sitters when they go to work.

“It is important to be aware, however, of the risks attached whether it is distractions while driving and near misses or the possible fines attached to driving with unrestrained pets. We aim to work with our customers so they can get back on the road safely.”

Dog demand is now at an all-time high, with the Dogs Trust charity reporting that searches for ‘Buy A Puppy’ more than doubled in 2020. Pet owners who have had an extended period at home during the Covid-19 lockdowns could face the prospect of returning to work later this year without their faithful companion by their side.

The Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles research found that men are more likely to take their pets to work than women, with those working in London and Northern Ireland most likely to bring their pets to work in their vans. Van drivers in East Anglia are more inclined to leave their dogs at home than any other region.

Van and dog safety checklist

Dogs Trust has a useful checklist to bear in mind when travelling with pets and to ensure drivers comply with the latest regulations:

  • Safety first: Dogs must be secured in a comfortably-sized seatbelt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or in the boot behind a dog-guard. These must be securely fitted and positioned so your dog cannot interfere with the driver or hang out of windows. 
  • Make the car an enjoyable place to be: Start by using your dog’s favourite treats to reward them for being calm whenever they are near the car, even just walking around it to begin. Never leave your dog alone in the vehicle and always travel with water.
  • Gradually introduce your dog to travelling in the car or van: Dogs need to get used to the sound and movement of the car slowly. Giving your dog extra tasty treats whenever the van starts up and starts to move means they begin to associate these changes with good things happening.
  • Acclimatise your dog to car journeys: Start with short, slow and gentle, familiar journeys that will allow your dog to get used to car travel in a positive way. Having a friend, who your dog knows well and is comfortable with, with you can be helpful so there is someone to be beside your dog if necessary while you are driving. 

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