Did you know we have as many pets in Australia today – 24 million – as there are people? In fact, 62% of households have a pet, compared to 65% in the US and only 40% in the UK. Some 38% of pet owners have dogs and 29% have cats. This means, any day on the road, someone has a beloved pet in the back of their car or sitting on the tray of their ute.
Since 2009 in NSW, there are road rules for carrying your pet safely in a vehicle:
- Never drive with an animal in your lap
- Never ride a motorbike with an animal between you and the handlebars
- Always seat your animals in an appropriate place in your vehicle
- Always restrain dogs on utes with a tether or cage so they can’t fall or get hurt.
The penalty for driving with an animal in your lap or between you and the handlebars is $433 plus three demerits – rising to $541 plus four demerits in a school zone. Moreover, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act says, if an animal is injured because it was unrestrained, you may face a fine of up to $5,500 and 6 months’ jail.
Carrying a pet safely protects the owner as well as the animal. If you are driving at 60kmh and your unrestrained 20kg dog gets thrown at you in a sudden stop, it is equivalent to the dog landing on you from a third-floor balcony. Ouch.
How to restrain
Skoda was one of the first manufacturers to include a dog harness as an accessory for one of its models. Owners of vehicles without these accessories need to choose from three types of attachment to carry their pets safely:
Harness – swivel style system that anchors to existing seatbelt and attaches to dog harness
Crates – large enough for pet to stand up, lie down and turn around and secured to vehicle
Cargo barriers – designed for your model of station wagon or 4WD or buy adjustable barriers.
There are no requirements to include your household pets for a CTP insurance quote. But keeping your pet safely harnessed in a moving vehicle will help you avoid an accident and keep your premiums down.