Drivers face £5,000 fine for risking pet’s safety when behind the wheel

Drivers risk fines of up to £5,000 for not prioritising their pet’s safety before setting off. New research has found more than a third (36%) of drivers who own and travel with their pet admit to previously driving without properly restraining them, according to new research by

Eased pandemic restrictions and warmer weather means UK roads are expected to get busier over the Easter weekend as the bank holiday approaches. But pet owners are being urged to think about road safety as it’s revealed that drivers aren’t always following the law around restraints.

Driving with your pet in tow seems to be popular. Almost a fifth (19%) of drivers admit to travelling with their pet at least once a week or several times a week (15%).

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But the latest research reveals that than one in five (21%) pet owners are unsure about the laws on pet restraints when driving. And as motorists might start thinking about planning holidays it seems that there are still lessons to be learned when it comes to pet safety.

The research also showed that a quarter of motorists plan to keep their pet on the backseat of their vehicle without any form of restraint. Others said they’d put their pet in the passenger footwell (18%) or in a bed or blanket (18%).

Drivers also admitted that their pet would be sat on a passenger’s lap (14%) or placed in the front passenger seat without a restraint (14%). While it might not seem a big deal to let your pet freely roam when you’re driving, the consequences might be worse than you think.

The Highway Code states that when in a vehicle, drivers must ensure that: “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.”

Drivers who are found travelling with their pets unrestrained risk points on their licence and fines of up to £5,000. To clear up confusion on pet restraints, offers advice on how to keep pets safe when on the road.

Car insurance expert at, Alex Kindred said: “Our latest research found that more than a fifth (21%) of pet owners are unsure about the driving law when it comes to pet restraints. Although our furry companions might be good company when on the road, it’s clear from our research that the rules aren’t always taken seriously.

“Pet restraints are a legal requirement and are important for the safety of all road users. To put it simply, if you’re distracted by your pet when driving, you could be responsible for causing a serious accident. And if your pet is found to be unrestrained, this could result in points on your licence or fines of up to £5,000.

“Our research also found that almost 1 in 6 (16%) of motorists don’t think unrestrained pets can invalidate insurance, but this is untrue. Insurers are unlikely to approve your claim if they find you’ve been driving carelessly. To ensure you’re compliant with the Highway Code, you can travel best with your pets by:

  • Using a pet restraint or seat belt;

  • Using a cage/carrier or;

  • Using a safety guard in the boot of your car

“All of these methods are legal and the safest way of travelling with your pet. Our guide on keeping pets safe when travelling can advise motorists further and ensure that no matter if you’re furry or not, everybody enjoys the ride.”