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Dog-loving van drivers risking hefty fine

Nearly a third of van drivers could be landed with a £5,000 fine for not safely securing their dogs while driving, according to new research.

The study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles revealed that (29%) of van drivers do not always safely restrain their dogs in the van. Not only could they be fined, but docked nine points and potentially invalidate their insurance.

More than two-fifths (41%) of van drivers who own dogs prefer to take them to work rather than leave them home alone or with a dogsitter.

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.

Dogs Trust has a these useful tips to bear in mind when travelling with pets…

  • Safety first: Dogs must be secured in a comfortably-sized seat-belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or in the boot behind a dog-guard. These must be securely fitted and positioned so your dog can’t interfere with the driver or hang out of windows.
  • Make the car an enjoyable place to be: Start by using your dog’s favourite treats to reward them for being calm whenever they’re near the car, even just walking around it to begin. Never leave your dog alone in the vehicle and always travel with water.
  • Gradually introduce your dog to travelling in the car or van: Dogs need to get used to the sound and movement of the car slowly. Giving your dog extra tasty treats whenever the van starts up and starts to move means they’ll begin to associate these changes with good things happening.
  • Acclimatise your dog to car journeys: Start with short, slow and gentle, familiar journeys that will allow your dog to get used to car travel in a positive way. Having a friend, who your dog knows well and is comfortable with, with you can be helpful so there is someone to be beside your dog if necessary while you are driving.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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