Dogs are one of Australia’s favourite pets, with about 40% of households owning at least one. We are also a driving nation, with most of us travelling long distances to work and holiday. So it should be no surprise that dogs riding in cars and utes are a common sight on Queensland roads. You do not have to look hard to find a furry little face peering out of a car window on your next road trip. But, while we love to give our family’s best friend pride of place in the car, there are a few legal concerns to consider before you bring your dog along for the ride.
Queensland’s Laws for Dogs Riding in Cars
As much fun as it can be to have your dog with you on the road, their presence in the car is equally likely to be a distraction. Pets that are unused to cars can become agitated, moving around the car and attempting to sit with other passengers.
Queensland has no specific requirement for pets to be restrained while they are in a vehicle. However, drivers may be charged with driving offences if the dog interferes with your driving. For example, if you crashed your car while reaching back to settle your dog, you could still be criminally prosecuted. Queensland also specifically prohibits pets from riding in the lap of the driver. Under section 297 (1A) of the Queensland Road Rules, it states that a driver must not “drive a vehicle if a person or an animal is in the driver’s lap.” Even if you are not involved in an accident, the fine for having a dog riding in your lap can be up to $2,757.
If your dog is riding in the tray of your ute, it will be classified as a load and therefore must be properly restrained. You are legally required to ensure your dog is restrained safely, securely and comfortably while riding in a car or ute.
How to Restrain Dogs in Cars
Australia is a country of dog lovers. Many of us treat our pets as an extension of the family, so it only makes sense they are restrained properly when riding in cars. Unfortunately, RSPCA statistics show that 5,000 dogs are injured or killed every year when they jump from moving cars. So, while you may not be legally required to restrain your dog, it is a measure you should take regardless.
Car harnesses a popular method of restraining dogs. These harnesses fit comfortably around your pet and are then connected to the seat belt system or secured elsewhere in your car. Preventing your dog from moving around or being able to jump out of the vehicle is important for their own safety. Dogs should never be restrained in the front passenger seat where they may be injured as an airbag deploys.
What Happens if My Dog is Hurt in a Car Accident?
We all understand the importance of wearing a seatbelt when we are in the car, but we often do not apply the same standard to our pets. That means, in the event of a car accident, pets are often injured or killed. Using a harness, dog seat or some other type of pet restraint is the best way to keep them safe should the worst happen. Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the RSPCA is empowered to issue fines and punishments for the mistreatment of animals. If you are involved in an accident and your dog is injured, you may face up to six months of jail time and $5,500 of fines from the RSPCA.
Additionally, if an accident is caused by the dog distracting the driver, drivers may face criminal fines or jail time associated with Queensland’s Distracted Driver regulations.
Have You Been Involved in a Car Accident? Contact Your Revolution Law Team Today
Car accidents can be stressful experiences, especially if you or your pet is injured as a result. If you have been involved in a car accident then it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Your local Revolution Lawyer can guide you through the process, ensuring the accident is reported properly to avoid unnecessary problems down the road. We always strive to process each claim quickly and efficiently while providing the support you need. We will ensure the details of your accident are recorded properly for liability purposes and determine whether you are entitled to any compensation for the accident. Contact your local Revolution Law team today for more information about our motor vehicle claims services.