Van drivers risk £5,000 fine for not safely securing dogs while driving

A study has revealed 41% of van drivers who own dogs prefer to take them to work rather than leave them home alone or with a dogsitter.

But a third admitted to not restraining them securely, which can lead to distractions. One in 10 drivers has had an accident while travelling in a vehicle with a pet or knows someone who has.

Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that pets must be “suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.”

The punishment for failing to secure a dog safely can range from up to £1,000 for driving without proper control, but can be stepped up to £5,000 and nine points for careless driving. Plus, it carries the potential of an insurer invalidating your policy.

There are a number of ways to safely secure your pet in the van including a comfortably sized seat-belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or in the boot behind a dog-guard.

Dog demand is now at an all-time high, with the Dogs Trust reporting that searches for “buy a puppy” more than doubled in 2020. Owners who have had an extended period at home during the COVID-19 lockdowns could face the potential prospect of returning to work later this year without their faithful companion by their side.

The Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles research found men are more likely to take their pets to work than women, while those working in London and Northern Ireland are most likely to bring their pets to work in their vans. Van drivers in East Anglia are more inclined to leave their dogs at home than any other region.

Kate Thompson, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, commented: “After such an extended period at home last year, we know that, now more than ever, van drivers don’t want to leave their dogs at home or with dogsitters when they go to work. It is important to be aware, however, of the risks attached whether it is distractions while driving and near misses or the possible fines attached to driving with unrestrained pets. We aim to work with our customers so they can get back on the road safely.”

Dogs Trust has a useful checklist to bear in mind when travelling with pets and to ensure drivers comply with the latest regulations:

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles demonstrates how you can safely secure your pet: