Worrying new research suggests that one in three dog-owning drivers do not safely restrain their four-legged friends.
For many people, dogs are a part of the family. But whereas most people wouldn’t dream of allowing their children to travel unrestrained, the same is not true for their pets.
A survey of 5,000 dog-owning drivers across Europe, commissioned by Ford, shows that 32% admit to not securing their pets safely in the car.
Of those dog owners surveyed who said they did not always secure their pets, nearly a third said it was because the animals did not like it, 31% claimed there was no need when undertaking short journeys, and 14% said they did not have room for a dog crate.
More than one in four (26%) of those who carried their dog unsecured admitted that their pet had poked its head out of the window, while some admitted that their pets had previously jumped out of the window resulting, on occasion, in the dog being killed or injured.
Owners also admitted being involved in accidents after being distracted by their pets. Dogs had turned on indicators, obscured the view ahead and bitten occupants.
Drivers are putting their lives at risk – as well as those of their passengers and other road users – by not strapping their dogs into their cars.
Experts estimate that if a car crashes at a speed of just 25mph, an unrestrained dog can develop projection forces 40 times that of its weight. What’s more, insurance claims can be invalidated if pets are not safely restrained in the vehicle.
Dog-owning drivers can avoid risks either by using a pet carrier or a harness.
Ford commissioned the study in the wake of the development of the all-new Focus estate, which was designed to accommodate the biggest possible dog crate. In fact, it can even carry an Irish Wolfhound – the world’s tallest breed of dog.
The Focus was a labour of love for Ford engineer Rene Berns, who enlisted the help of Emil, his Australian Shepherd, to ensure the biggest possible crate could be accommodated.
He said: “Most people would be heartbroken if anything ever happened to their beloved dog – and nobody expects to crash.
“But it is vital that, for everyone’s benefit, full safety precautions are taken when transporting our four-legged friends.
“I know how much it means to me to be able to take Emil with me wherever I am going, and I’m proud that he has helped make that easier for other dog owners and their pets to travel safely and in comfort”.
Dog training expert Graeme Hall, aka ‘The Dogfather’, said: “If you have a pet, please think of its safety the way you would any other member of the family.
“I always carry my dog Lily in the boot in her crate. She can comfortably move around and everyone’s safe. I believe that’s the best solution.”