The state laws on restraining your pets in the car are changing. Currently in Victoria dogs must be restrained only when travelling in the back of a Ute. The new laws are proposing dogs & pets travelling in the back seat of the car must be safely restrained. If your dog is travelling in the car they must be restrained with a safety harness, in a large dog crate or behind a cargo barrier. If you are caught with your pets unrestrained in the car, the proposed new law includes hefty fines and loss of demerit points.
In addition to adhering to the relevant state law on pet restraint in cars, as veterinarians we believe a common sense approach to dog safety is best. Firstly any unsecure objects in a car can easily turn into life threatening projectiles during an impact. Pets left free to roam in a car can not only be life threatening to any humans or other animals travelling in a car, they are also in direct danger of being injured themselves.
The NRMA reports "If you're driving 60km per hour with an unrestrained 20kg dog in your car and it gets thrown onto you, the impact is the same as if it had hit you from a third-floor balcony
Benefits for using pet restraints
We feel there are three critical safety benefits of using pet restraints.
- your pet will not be tempted to jump from a window, nor will he/she be at risk of falling out of an open window as a result of sudden directional changes or braking.
- there's less chance of the driver being distracted if a pet is unable to move around the vehicle.
- if you suddenly brake or have a sudden impact there is less chance of your dog becoming a projectile.
Types of dog restraints
- Swivel style attachment systems that anchor to the existing seatbelt and attach to a dog harness. To be effective, it is essential for the harness to be correctly fitted and for the anchor to be secure.
Pet transport crates
- For complete safety, crates must be secured to your vehicle and be big enough for a pet to stand up, lie down and turn around as per RSPCA guidelines.
- Ideal for station wagons and four wheel drives. They can be purchased to suit your make and model of vehicle or you can purchase adjustable barriers that are easily installed and removed. If your cargo area is large consider the use of a harness as well.
One reason why you should act
As much as we all love to see a cute and happy face poking out from a car window and lapping up the breeze and sun, we ask you to consider a car restraint when travelling with your pet. We recently heard of an unfortunate accident where a driver passed away after a sudden impact accident. However the driver's dog, travelling in the rear of the car survived the tragic event as a result of wearing a car harness.
If not for your safety, please consider your family, your pets and other road users.