According to RSPCA statistics, more than 5000 pets are hurt or killed in moving vehicles in Australia each year.
Apart from the heartache and expense of injurying or losing a beloved animal, it's illegal for a pet to not be properly restrained
Craig Duff writing in the Sunshine Coast Daily explains the consequences of not keeping pets safe while driving and what to look for in a restraint.
Fines and demerit points apply and the consequences can include jail time under the prevention of cruelty to animals provisions if your pet is injured or hurts someone else during a collision.
There is no official standard for pet restraints, meaning the quality of products varies from rubbish to robust.
The NRMA highlighted the problem in 2013 when it tested 25 dog restraints.
Only two, the Purina Roadie and Sleepypod Clickit, restrained the animal in both a simulated 20km/h crash and a "drop" test at 35km/h.
NRMA engineers identified the plastic buckles, similar to those found on backpacks, as the weak link in the other products.
These buckles gave way when the test dummy animal's weight abruptly hit them, making them useless in the event of a crash.
NRMA Insurance Head of Research Robert McDonald says testing shows an effective harness is critical.
"Most people using the commonly available harnesses are doing so in a genuine attempt to keep their pets safe," he says.
"However our testing has unfortunately shown that most harnesses, while effective at restraining pets, are not safety devices and do little to prevent injury in a common low-speed crash."
There are three basic types of in-car restraint: harness, carrier and cage.
The first is effectively a seat belt for dogs and is usually secured to the child seat mounting points or the car seat belt. Prices range from $20$150 depending on the size.
Never carry your pet in the front seat - the passenger's airbag isn't going to do it a lot of good if you do have a crash.
Carriers are a booster seat for dogs and also fasten to the car's seat belt. Testing has shown most turn into an additional projectile in the event of a crash, typically because of buckle failure.
Crates are more secure than a cargo barrier and are a smart option if you have a couple of dogs to transport. They need to be bolted to the floor or secured to the anchorage points in the cargo area.
Need pet insurance?
MyNRMA offers Pet Plus, which offers cover for your pet while driving.
NRMA Insurance offers a Pet Lover's pack, which covers up to $2,000 for vet costs if your cat or dog gets hurt in an accident at home.
The Pet Lover's pack can be chosen as an optional cover as part of your Home Insurance policy.
Pet Lovers Pack covers the following:
- Veterinary costs for your cats and dogs if they are hurt in an accident (up to $2,000)
- Boarding costs for your cats and dogs if they cannot live in your home due to a listed event
- Damage to your home/contents caused by your cats and dogs
Check out the Product Disclosure Statement for more details.