Dogs should be banned from sticking their heads out of the car window, a major insurer has suggested.
New research by Direct Line Pet Insurance found two in five dog owners who drive with their pets risk major fines by not always keeping them secure in the vehicle.
Almost half - 47 per cent - of drivers allowed their pets to stick their head out the window on a car journey, with 28 per cent suffering an injury as a result.
And 18 per cent of motorists who did not restrain their dog in the car have had an accident while driving with their pet in the past five years.
This is despite the Highway Code stating that animals must be suitably restrained when in a vehicle so that they cannot distract or injure the driver.
A spokesman for the insurer said: “Is it time to ban dogs putting their heads out of car windows?
“While breaking the Highway Code does not carry a direct penalty, if you are deemed to be distracted and cause careless driving, you could be fined up to £200 on a ‘fixed penalty notice’ by the police, and depending on the severity, up to nine penalty points on a driver’s licence. Careless driving penalty points must stay on driving records for four years from the date of the offence.”
'Dogs should always be secured'
Madeline Pike, a veterinary nurse for the insurer, added: “Securing your dog helps to prevent injuries or avoidable distractions. While it may be tempting to have your beloved pooch enjoy the ride in the front seat or freely in the car, dogs should always be secured whether that is using a seat belt, dog guard or pet carrier, and usually keeping them in the backseat or boot.
“It is really important that owners are looking out for their pet’s wellbeing, as well as other road users. Securing dogs and other animals properly can help prevent injury, potential collisions and keep attention onto the roads.”
The Highway Code recommends: “A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of safely restraining animals in cars.”