SAFETY FIRST: Caitlin Ollier ensures her border collie, Indi, is harnessed in the car.
SAFETY FIRST: Caitlin Ollier ensures her border collie, Indi, is harnessed in the car. John Mccutcheon

Drivers with unrestrained animals 'dicing with safety'

DOG lovers might like to have their pets with them all the time but experts have warned they are dicing with their safety when they take them on the road with them.

While leaving a pet unrestrained in a moving vehicle is a recipe for disaster, recent tests that put a range of popular pet harnesses in crash simulations have found that almost all were ineffective in restraining pets in low-speed collisions.

The NRMA Insurance survey also found that 45% of Queensland dog owners did not restrain their dog when it was travelling in a car.

Of them, 65% said they placed the animal on the front or back seat, while 4% admitted to letting their pets ride on their laps.

"An unrestrained pet sitting on the back seat of a car can hit the dashboard with enough force to cause serious injury, even at a collision speed below 20kmh," NRMA Insurance head of research Robert McDonald said.

"An effective harness is critical when travelling with a pet as it keeps the animal safe and restrained and avoids the driver being distracted.

"In a collision, an unrestrained pet also has the potential to injure the other passengers in the vehicle."

The NRMA tested a range of dog safety harnesses using life-sized and correctly weighted dog dummies at speeds of up to 35kmh.

Of the 25 harnesses tested across a range of manufacturers, all but two failed to restrain the dummy, due to the use of weak plastic buckles, similar to those used on most backpacks.

Only two harnesses didn't fail: the Purina Roadie harness and the Sleepypod Clickit harness.

Results of the testing might come as a surprise to many pet owners, although they didn't shock Caitlin Ollier.

The Caloundra woman drives her border collie, Indi, to the beach almost every day and said she was always restrained.

Ms Ollier said she wasn't surprised how many people admitted to not securing their dogs. "I think the price (of the harnesses) would be a factor," she said.



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