Australians love to travel with their furry friends. Many of us consider them key participants on our family adventures and whilst it is common knowledge that wearing a seatbelt is an essential requirement when getting in a car, many of us are unaware of what rules apply to our dogs when it comes to riding along with us.
Statistics tell us that 5,000 dogs are killed or injured in road accidents in Australia each year due to improper restraining. This is an alarming number, one that most of us don’t pay enough attention to. 1
Rules and Regulations for Dogs Riding in Cars
Rules which regulate how your pet can travel are important because it can be extremely distracting and limiting for a driver to concentrate on the road whilst they have a dog moving around in the car. Such incidents have led to accidents resulting in serious injuries or death for both owner and animal. 2
In 2013, Australia introduced stricter road rules which prohibit a pet from sitting within a driver’s vicinity.
The consistent rule, no matter which state you are located in, is that no dog is allowed to sit on your lap while you are driving. In NSW, The Roads and Maritime Services authorises the police to fine and issue demerit points to drivers who break this law. While the exact amount may differ from state to state, it is generally accepted that:
- An animal must not ride on a motor cycle between the handlebars and the motor cycle rider
- Dogs who travel in utes need to be restrained by either a cage or a tether
- Dogs travelling in a motor vehicle are required to be located in an appropriate area. 3
While it is important to be aware of the rules surrounding your pet to ensure its safety, it is also important to understand the repercussions that can occur if they are breached. The RSPCA has authority under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to issue hefty fines if an animal is injured due to being unrestrained, or even face jail time. 4
How Should You Restrain Your Dog?
While most of us love the sight of an adorable pup with its head out the window soaking up a cool breeze, ensuring your dog has been restrained correctly is key to ensuring less animals are injured in road accidents. It is important to restrain your dog to ensure that drivers are not distracted by their dogs and cause road accidents due to being distracted.
Most pet stores have animal restraints and seat belts for dogs who travel in a motor vehicle. Depending on the size of your dog, you may either need a harness which attaches to the seat belt or a crate.
Despite it not being against the law to have your pet seated at the front, there is a significant risk for your dog obtaining a serious injury or being killed in the event that the airbags go off. Due to the unpredictability of road accidents it is highly recommended that your furry friend be restrained at all times on the road. 5
While we try our best to follow all our road rules, it is hard to keep in touch with them all and not everyone is aware that there are rules that regulate our pets too. If you have been injured in a road incident and are unsure of what to do, Shine Lawyers are here to help. Get in touch with one of our Motor Vehicle Accident lawyers for more information.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 16, 2018.