Every day, more and more people welcome an animal into their family. If you’re one of them, whether you have a dog, cat or another pet, here are some guidelines for safe car travel with your furry friend.
As vehicle occupants, pets should be well-secured and protected. Otherwise, drivers face a fine of 100 euros. But this shouldn’t be your biggest concern — what’s more important is to consider the safety of your pet and other passengers in the car.
Failing to properly secure your pet in the vehicle carries some risks you need to be aware of:
- It can be distracting for the driver if the animal is moving about or trying to escape.
- The animal could interfere with driving by climbing on top of the driver or touching the vehicle’s mechanical systems (gear lever, pedals, etc.).
- The animal could escape when the door is opened, potentially interfering with traffic and causing an accident that puts the lives of other road users at risk. The same thing could happen if your pet stuck its head out of the window and fell out.
- If you have to brake suddenly or crash, an improperly secured animal can cause serious or even fatal damage to other occupants. To give you an idea, in a frontal collision travelling at 30 mph, a medium-sized dog (weighing 20 kg) would become 35 times heavier due to the elephant effect, and would hit other passengers with the same force as an object weighing 700 kg.
You should choose a restraint system based on the size or weight of your dog, cat or other pet. It’s also important it’s fully approved to give you the confidence that it’s gone through tests to guarantee its effectiveness in the event of a crash.
These are particularly recommended for dogs. They restrain pets using seat belts or Isofix devices. Although there are harnesses with a single hook, we advise getting one with a double hook as they support the animal’s weight better in the event of accidents.
Under no circumstances should the animal be hooked only with its lead. Not only is this not effective as a restraining element, but it can also seriously injure the animal’s neck.
This is one of the safest methods. For large dogs over 20 kg, one of the best ways to carry them is in a pet carrier in the boot. This should be placed as close as possible to the backrest, going crossways from the direction you’re travelling in.
Smaller and lighter pets can go in a carrier fitted between the front and rear seats. This stops them from being able to move freely inside the passenger compartment, which could distract the driver.
Carriers should never be placed on the seat secured by a seat belt as tests have shown that the crate breaks and the pet will be thrown through the wall of the carrier.
Car barriers or dividers allow you to set up the back of your cat for transporting large animals, provided you have a tailgate or family vehicle. The safest and most recommended options are the ones that are fitted from the roof of the vehicle to the floor of the boot.
Even with this, it’s not advisable for animals to be loose in the boot. It’s always best to transport them in a suitable carrier.