1 in 3 dog-owning drivers put road users at risk by letting pets loose in their cars

Just last night I watched a car go by me with a small dog hanging out the side window, and whilst it’s tempting to think it looks cute and funny, the reality is if the car were to crash or have someone hit them, the poor dog risks serious injury.

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(The dog above is in a stationary car!) Lupo is obviously too big to sit on my child’s knee and hang out the window, but even in the boot of the car we’ve always tied him in using a lead, as we don’t use a crate. I once read about the risk of your dog running into traffic, should you have a crash and they jump out the car, so ever since he’s always been secured. This story from Ford shows some shocking results from dog owners, I’m hoping it helps at least one person change their habits for their pet’s benefit. They have a great solution that’s been tested by their engineer’s dog!

For many people, dogs are a part of the family. But whereas most people wouldn’t dream of allowing their children to travel unrestrained, the same is not true for their pets.

A new survey commissioned by Ford shows that 32 per cent of dog-owning drivers admit to not securing their pets safely in the car. * To do so is a legal requirement in many countries, and it is recognised that this is not only safer for the animals but also for drivers, passengers and other road users.

Work on Ford’s all-new Focus wagon was a labour of love for Ford engineer Rene Berns, who looked to his three-year old Australian Shepherd dog Emil for inspiration when designing a car that enabled dogs to travel more safely.

During testing, Rene enlisted Emil’s help to ensure the biggest possible crate could be accommodated in the Focus wagon boot space. As a result, the vehicle can comfortably carry even an Irish Wolfhound, the world’s tallest breed of dog.

“If you have a pet, please think of its safety in the same way you would about any other member of the family,” said dog training expert, Graeme Hall, aka “The Dogfather”. “I always carry my dog Lily in the boot in her crate. She can comfortably move around and everyone’s safe. I believe that’s the best solution.”

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Of those dog owners surveyed who said they did not always secure their pets, 32 per cent said it was because the animals did not like it, 31 per cent claimed there was no need when undertaking short journeys, and 14 per cent said they did not have room for a dog crate.

More than 1 in 4 of those who carried their dog unsecured admitted that their pet had poked its head out of the window (26 per cent). Some said pets had previously jumped out of the window resulting, on occasion, in the pet being killed or injured. Owners also admitted being involved in accidents after being distracted by their pets, that dogs had turned on indicators, obscured the view ahead and bitten occupants.

Insurance claims can be invalidated if pets are not safely restrained in the vehicle and it has been estimated that if a car crashes at a speed of 40 km/h (25 mph), an unrestrained dog can develop projection forces that are 40 times its weight. **

Together with his team, based in Cologne, Germany, Rene helped to maximise boot space in the Focus wagon by compressing the foam layer of the roof liner, altering the length of the hinge screws and reshaping the boot opening.

“I know how much it means to me to be able to take Emil with me wherever I am going, and I’m proud that he has helped make that easier for other dog owners and their pets to travel safely and in comfort,” said Berns.

The all-new Focus wagon is on sale across Europe in a comprehensive line-up that includes the stylish Focus Trend and Titanium, sporty Focus ST-Line, upscale Focus Vignale, and the first sports-utility vehicle-inspired Focus Active crossover.

 

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