• Pet travel safety: survey shows Aussie’s risking pet safety in cars

    March 8, 2024


    Dog in car with head out window for pet travel safety

    Read our article on proper pet harnesses to use in vehicles

    A recent survey shows Aussie’s don’t make pet travel safety a priority when taking their pet in the car.

    Despite 80% of pet owners driving with their animal,  Compare the Market’s survey shows one-fifth (21.2%) don’t secure them.

    An additional 4.8% report that their pets are held by a passenger without any formal restraint.

    The survey, which examines pet travel safety, highlights some other concerning trends. Nearly 50% of pet owners utilise a collar to seatbelt attachment for securing their pets. However, The Center For Pet Safety warns that such attachments may pose dangers in the event of an accident, recommending instead the use of a harness around the pet’s body or a specialised pet car crate.

    Animal Welfare Victoria advises that dogs should be adequately restrained with an appropriate seatbelt or restraining device, underlining the legal implications drivers face if pets are not securely restrained within the vehicle.

    The findings also detail the seating preferences for pets within cars, with the majority sitting in the back middle seat (20.8%) or the back passenger seat (20.5%). Meanwhile, 18.4% of pets are seated in the front passenger seat.

    Key stats from survey

    • 21.2% of Australian pet owners do not secure their pets while driving.
    • An additional 4.8% allow pets to be held by a passenger, without proper restraint.
    • Nearly 50% of pet owners use a collar to seatbelt attachment for securing their pets in the car.
    • 20.8% of pets sit in the back middle seat, while 20.5% prefer the back passenger seat.
    • 18.4% of pets travel in the front passenger seat.
    • The Center For Pet Safety recommends the use of a harness or a specialised pet car crate over collar to seatbelt attachments.
    • Most Australian pet insurance policies cover injuries from car accidents, regardless of the pet’s security in the vehicle.

    Pet insurance coverage with car crashes

    Regardless of whether a pet is kept secure or not, Compare the Market’s Executive General Manager of General Insurance, Adrian Taylor, explains pet insurance could help pay for veterinary treatment if they are injured in the car during an accident.

    “Most pet insurance companies here in Australia will cover injuries from car accidents to insured pets, ” he says.

    “Regardless of whether they are secured or unsecured in the car.

    “It’s important to read through the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to check any exclusions.

    “Importantly, keep them secure in accordance with your local state guidelines as you could risk infringements and fines.”

    View Compare the Market’s website for more data, graphics, additional findings and comparisons to survey results from the US and Canada.


    Dangers of unrestrained pets in cars:

    Increased risk of injury: In the event of an accident, unrestrained pets can suffer severe injuries or even death. An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a 50-mph crash can exert 500 pounds of force, while an 80-pound dog in a 30-mph crash can exert 2,400 pounds of force.

    Impact on driver’s concentration: Studies show that drivers travelling with unrestrained pets spend more time distracted by their pets’ activities. This increased distraction time can lead to higher stress levels and reduced focus on driving.

    Legal implications: Driving with unrestrained pets can lead to fines and penalties in several states, as it’s considered a hazard to both the pet and public safety.

    Recommendations for safe travel: To ensure the safety of both pets and passengers, it’s advised to use pet harnesses, carriers, or vehicle barriers designed for pet travel. These restraints not only keep pets secure but also reduce distractions for the driver.

    Pet and driver well-being: Securely restraining pets not only minimises distractions but also lowers stress levels for both pets and drivers. Securely restrained pets exhibit lower heart rates, indicating reduced distress during travel.



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