Hazards of Driving With Pets

Does your pet go on car rides with you?

It is important to remember that in Ontario there are laws relating, but not specific to, the transportation of animals. Under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act there are two charges that can apply but aren’t specific to animals.

1)  Insecure load (section III (2) of the HTA); Dog loose in the back of a truck. No animal should be loose in the back of a pick-up truck. Animals need to be secure by way of a crate and the crate also needs to be secured.

2) Carless Driving (Driving 130 of the HTA) Offence: Dog on the lap of a driver. Having an animal on the lap of a Driver puts the operator of the vehicle, the occupants and other drivers at risk of injury. Animals should be in the back seat secured by way of crate or seatbelt harness.

Most pets sit in the back seat, but some owners allow their pets to ride “shotgun” in the front passenger seat, and in worst case scenario, on the lap of the driver. In the case of an accident, not only does this pose a risk of pets possibly going through the front windshield, but it also puts them at risk of becoming injured from the air bag. In addition to these dangers, there are also many risks with letting your pet stick its head out of the window. Although most dogs enjoy this, it could actually put them at risk of flying objects that may hit them in the face and eyes, and over time the wind can damage their eyes by drying them out.

There are also issues with cats being loose in the car. They can get under the foot pedals or when you open the door to get out, they get loose in a parking lot or hide under the seats and it can be very hard to get them out.

Hazards of driving with pets
Cat on the wheel under the mudguard

There are ways to avoid these dangers. There are a variety of animal restraints available in most pet stores. There are harnesses that use the cars existing seatbelt or you can purchase booster seats for small dogs. Some vehicles now have options that include a tether for the pet in the cargo department, and let’s not forget – there is always the option of using a carrier.

Which ever option you choose, this simple investment can help keep both you and your pet safe while driving in the family vehicle.

By Pat Courtice Tech