Is it really OK to let your dog hang out of your car window?
We’ve all been looking for the best ways to cool down during the recent heatwave here in the UK, and so have our dogs. And what could possibly feel better than sticking your head out of the car window, tongue lolling and ears flapping in the breeze! But did you know that if your dog is not properly restrained in your car and they cause an accident, you could get a £5,000 fine and points on your licence for causing a distraction.
According to the Highway Code, drivers who do not restrain their dogs when driving could end up with a penalty if their dog is not secured within their vehicle. You are legally required to restrain your dog – and any other small animal - in your car when you are driving, in order to prevent them from causing an accident by distracting you, or injuring themselves if you crash.
Frenchie photo by freestocks.org on Pexels
Some people choose to transport their pets in a secure crate or behind a dog guard in the boot of their car, or if your pet is more of a family member – like our featured lurcher puppy, Murdock – then you might want to buy them a special padded safety harness and clip them onto a doggy seatbelt instead.
If an animal travelling in your car is found to have caused or contributed to a road traffic accident, either by leaning out of the widow when you are driving and distracting you – or jumping onto your lap and licking your face when you are driving - then you could be hit with a hefty fine and it could also invalidate your pet insurance and your car insurance.
Definitely don’t let your dog drive either, photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels
The Highway Code
Here's Rule 57 of the Highway code:
"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.”
So if your dog is sticking their head out of the window, this could indicate that your dog is not properly restrained within the car, you may even get pulled over and warned by traffic officers.
Speaking to the Mirror about the rule, Mark Tongue from Select Car leasing said:
“We’d recommend you don’t let your dog stick its head out of the window. Not only does that potentially illustrate that the animal is not restrained properly, there’s also the obvious risk of its head coming into contact with something, like a bush or a tree, resulting in a bad injury.
“And make no mistake - if you don’t have your dog properly restrained, and it’s causing distraction, you could be prosecuted by the law. Don’t take the risk. Make sure both you and your pooch are buckled up properly.”
Poodle photo by W W on Pexels
Although your dog may enjoy catching the breeze, it could also be a distraction for other road users too. They may turn to look at your dog, lose concentration and have an accident. Your dog could even jump out of the window and cause traffic chaos if they spot a cat or a squirrel. Sometimes they just can’t help but follow their urges!
Are you keeping your dog restrained in this hot weather? Perhaps you like to keep the windows rolled up and pop the air con on instead! We’ve seen a few alarming news reports about dogs being left in hot cars and police officers smashing windows to get them out, despite all the campaigns and awareness raised about this issue. In case you missed it, last week we wrote about the RSPCA’s new #DOGSDIEONHOTWALKS campaign, highlighting the dangers of heatstroke in dogs. If you’ve got any tips for keeping your pooch cool do share them with us in the comment section below.
Main photo: Collie by Breno Cardoso