Pet safety in cars is often neglected, ponders this white dog sitting in a car boot that's thinking about road safety and pets

A Guide to Pet Safety in Cars


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When it comes to road safety buckling up, staying alert, and sticking to speed limits is second nature. Where most of us fall short is enforcing pet safety in cars. Letting the furkids break the rules in the car can lead to unsafe situations for the whole family. At some point most of us have been guilty of driving with a pup or cat on our laps or leaving them free to run around the back seat. This is not best practice for road safety and pets.

As a pet parent, the best way to tackle pet safety in cars is to give them the same car safety rules as human babies. Here’s some good reasons why.

Why is pet safety in cars so important?

Although Max is usually a chilled pooch, even he is unpredictable in a highly stimulative, dynamic environment.  

Though normally a well-behaved boy who sits obediently with his hair flying in the wind, his behaviour quickly changes with excitement or fear. As for cats, they’re also known to go from relaxed to claws out within a split second.

This is all it takes for you to be distracted from the road.

Unrestrained pets can cause distractions

Distractions on the road contribute significantly to the number of road crashes, according to the Australian Automobile Association (AAA). Research shows that distraction contributes to about 16% of serious casualty road crashes on Australian roads. This suggests that distracted driving is as dangerous as drink driving.

Distraction is known to increase reaction time such as braking. It can also prevent a driver from maintaining their speed or staying in a lane. This can have a negative impact, to say the least.

Pets are known to jump, claw and climb on the dash or crawl under the pedals within an instant. This is why ensuring pet safety in cars needs to be a priority with every trip you and your fur kid make. Accidents do happen and you’re putting not just your life at risk but the lives of your passengers and other motorists.

Road safety and pets can help in the event of a collision, which may occur with. Here a this pooch who’s enjoying the wind in their face by sticking its head out the window.

Road safety and pets: All passengers inside at all times

Even though sticking his head out the window to feel the breeze is Max’s favourite thing in the world – it’s a major safety red flag. Your pooch can be hit by random road debris thrown up by the tyres or by passing branches. Hard braking can also lead to injury or an accident.

How to lower the risk of injury or death

It’s vital to invest in a pet crate or carrier for the car. Ensure this is large enough for your pet to stand and turn around in. Most importantly, it needs to be secured using a strap or a seat belt. The key to pet safety in cars is the right secure seating purchase and using it properly. At all times. This is what helps save lives.

Do plenty of research online as to the best equipment for you and your pet, and speak to your local pet supplies store professional. Plus, read our article on how to choose the best pet carrier.

Always keep your pet secure and stop regularly to give them some time on the lead outside the car. A bit of food, a chance for the toilet… it will help keep them calm when they’re in the car. Which means fewer distractions for you.

Regular breaks also help you – re-setting your mind and body to encourage staying focused while on the road.

For further help in keeping your car and pet in tip top shape during a road trip, check our pet proofing your car article for a handy list of pet care items to pack. You might also want to look into these pet friendly destinations.

How pet safety in cars can save human lives

Although thinking about being in a collision isn’t pleasant, it’s something we must do to prepare adequately for road safety and pets.

Wearing seat belts can help save you and your passengers’ lives in the event of a crash. During a collision the sudden change in inertia means your body wants to keep moving even though the car has suddenly stopped.

Pet safety in cars can be achieved through an animal crate like this Boxer and Lab are in in this car boot

What about how road safety measures can save pets’ lives?

Pet bodies react in the same way as humans. An unrestrained pet is likely to suffer serious injury in a collision. A pet launched by the impact can also cause severe injury to you or others in the car. US research found an unrestrained 5kg pet exerts 135kg of pressure in a crash at 50km/h.

About 5,000 dogs are injured or killed in Australia every year due to falling from a moving vehicle. Another scary thought is your pet being trapped between you and the steering wheel. There’s a huge risk of your pet being crushed and other complications caused by a detonating airbag.

It might be called ‘the dog box’ but placing the carrier in the backseat or boot of your vehicle is often best for Max and for you. When it comes to road safety and pets, implementing a couple of simple measures to address road safety and pets is a significant help if things go wrong.

Finally, if the worst should happen and you get into a fender bender, it’s handy to have a first aid kit and pet insurance. Both will help tend to your pet’s medical needs and provide protection from financial risks involved in unexpected vet bills. Your road travelling rover will thank you for it!

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