Motorists could face £5000 fine for driving with a dog under Highway Code rules

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The law carries a large penalty if broken

Motorists who travel with their dog could face paying a hefty fine for breaching the Highway Code.

A shake-up to the Highway Code was rolled out last month, which introduced changes to improve the safety of cyclists, horse-riders and pedestrians.

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Breaching the rule risks a fine of up to £5,000 for ‘careless driving’ (Photo: Adobe)Breaching the rule risks a fine of up to £5,000 for ‘careless driving’ (Photo: Adobe)
Breaching the rule risks a fine of up to £5,000 for ‘careless driving’ (Photo: Adobe) | kegfire - stock.adobe.com

Drivers are now legally required to treat these road users with more consideration when overtaking, giving cyclists and pedestrians priority at certain junctions.

But perhaps lesser known to motorists is the law on travelling on the road with a dog in the car - a rule which carries a large penalty if broken.

What does the Highway Code say?

Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that dogs, and other animals, must be “suitably restrained” while driving to avoid distractions.

Drivers who are travelling with their pet are advised to use a seat belt harness, dog carrier or a guard as a means of restraining their pooch while on the road.

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Leaving pets unrestrained in the seat not only risks causing a distraction, if a driver were to crash and the impact was large enough, it could activate a car’s airbags which may cause injury or even kill a dog.

As such, a proper dog restraint is essential for whenever a pet travels in a car.

A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard should be used to restrain dogs travelling in a car (Photo: Adobe)A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard should be used to restrain dogs travelling in a car (Photo: Adobe)
A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard should be used to restrain dogs travelling in a car (Photo: Adobe) | Marcella Miriello - stock.adobe.

Dogs Trust recommends that dogs do not travel in the front of the car where possible.

The Code says: “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.

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“A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

What happens if drivers break the rule?

While breaking the Highway Code does not carry a direct penalty, drivers who are deemed to be distracted on the road could be given a £1,000 on-the-spot fine for ‘careless driving’.

This carries a maximum fine of up to £5,000 and nine penalty points, depending on the severity of the breach.

Drivers also risk causing an accident on the road by failing to restrain their pet.

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In extreme cases, breaking this rule could also result in a driving ban and a compulsory re-test.

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