Many drivers are currently unaware they could be breaking the law this summer, with fines of up to £5,000, by simply taking their pet in their vehicle.
Pets are often considered an extension of the family, so they’re regular passengers on the roads. One in ten pet owners admit to letting their pets ride shotgun or hang their heads out of the window. Millions of drivers are unwittingly breaking the law, leaving themselves open to a fine of up to £5,000 and nine points under rule 57 of the Highway Code. Getting your dog out of your car on the motorway after a breakdown could also be very costly and dangerous.
With holidays in the UK ramping up as lockdown restrictions ease, driving long distances for a nice staycation is becoming a popular trend this summer, as well as taking our furry friends on the journey - 57 per cent of pet owners state that they enjoy their holidays more when their pet is with them.
Research by, touring caravan and motorhome insurance specialists, Caravan Guard, warns drivers to be aware of Section 56 of the Highway Code, as it reveals taking your pet on the motorway could be a costly experience motorists might not be aware of, especially if drivers experience a breakdown during their travels.
New data has revealed one fifth of road users are planning a drive to stay overnight with family and friends and a further six per cent are set to visit camping sites throughout August. A total of 690,000 drivers, are planning on taking their caravan for a short break.
With more drivers getting back onto the UK roads, it’s been reported breakdown call outs increased by 72% throughout May and is predicted to increase with more traffic over the next few months.
If you breakdown on the motorway, Police guidance says to remove yourself from the vehicle in a safe manner and stand away from your vehicle and the carriageway.
Naturally trying to stay calm, the driver would quickly remove the family from the vehicle automatically including any pets, however removing your pet could incur a £2.500 fine and up to six penalty points on your licence, as stated in Section 56 of the Highway Code.
By law, the driver should leave the pet inside the vehicle, unless it is not safe to do so.
Also, some recovery trucks don’t accept pets in their tow vehicles. Therefore, it’s best to mention you have a pet when calling to avoid disappointment, and ultimately incurring a longer waiting time.
Last year, there were 3,780 accidents involved stationary cars parked on the hard shoulder of the motorway.
Liz Harrison, PR & Communications Manager at Caravan Guard, commented: “Our pets are part of the family so when going away camping or caravanning in the UK, there’s no question about bringing them with us to enjoy the holiday.
“If you’re unfortunate enough to break down make sure you think twice before taking your pet out of the vehicle as it’s not always the safest thing for you, them and other motorists. The distraction that animals can cause could be catastrophic when motorists are going at high speeds, so it’s important to take extra precautions when holidaying with pets. This includes making sure you have a suitable restraint, such as a harness, pet carrier or cage.”