Travels with your mutt

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.

Carry safely

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.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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