Forgetting to restrain your pet is a paw excuse

December 11, 2007

Motorists wouldn't drive with an unsecured child because it’s dangerous and irresponsible, yet when it comes to pets only 44 per cent of motorists say they take proper precautions and restrain their pet correctly.

In a recent study by leading low-cost car insurance provider, Budget Direct, more than 1000 motorists across Australia were asked if they secure their pets when travelling in a motor vehicle, and in each Australian state less than half of those questioned said they do.

While pet owners in the city (47 per cent) scored slightly higher than regional pet owners (42 per cent), statistics show that female drivers are more likely to secure their pet (56 per cent) than males. (44 per cent).

CEO of Budget Direct, Michael Weston, said the results are concerning, especially with the holiday season fast approaching.

"Our study revealed that while dogs and cats were the most common pets to travel with the family, we discovered that motorists are travelling on a regular basis with unrestrained birds, rabbits, rats and even snakes in their vehicles, which is just incredible," Mr Weston said.

"If you have a pet moving around in your vehicle it is not only a major distraction, but can also prove highly dangerous."

"In an accident, an unsecured dog or a cat can act like a missile and it is essential that they are secured as well as every other member of the family," he said.

RSPCA Shelters Program Coordinator, Selena Reid, said not only do motorists face the loss of their beloved pet if it is not properly restrained, but they also risk a substantial fine.

"Motorists have a duty of care to see to the welfare of their animals and they face hefty fines if police find them breaching this duty," Ms Reid said.

"With the Budget Direct study showing less than half of New South Wales drivers secure their pets while travelling, it would appear many are unaware of the dangers as well as legal ramifications."

Ms Reid said there is a wide range of products available at reasonable prices to secure animals of all sizes.

"Seat belt harnesses are available for all dogs and can be attached to any car, crates are recommended for travelling with cats and I would strongly encourage motorists to keep their birds in a cage," she said.

"It is particularly important to secure small animals. Our ambulance has had to rescue kittens and puppies from obscure places such as inside the car door and under the dashboard, which is horrific for the animal and passengers."

At 82 per cent, the Budget Direct study revealed the most common pet travelled with in all Australian states was the dog.

"Many motorists put their dogs on the back of a utility vehicle as they think this is safer than having them travel in the car, however drivers need to remember that it is actually unsafe and also illegal in most states to have an unrestrained dog in an open tray of a utility truck," Ms Reid said.

"Harnesses are recommended for utilities, and they should have enough give for the dog to reach the edge of the tray, but not get over it."

For further information or interviews please contact Jonathan Kerr, Director, Marketing & Digital, Budget Direct (Auto & General) at 07 3377 8801 or

Budget Direct was established as an insurance provider in Australia in 2000.  It is part of the international BHL Group of companies headquartered in the British Isles. The group provides more than 6.8 million policies to insurance customers and administers $2 billion in premiums annually. Budget Direct offers Motor, Home & Contents, Health, Life and Travel Insurance as well as Roadside Assistance.