The feel of the wind in your fur

Some dogs clearly enjoy the sensory overload of having their heads poking out the window of a moving vehicle. But what does the law say about this canine caper and are there any safety concerns?

Legally, your fur baby can be blasted by cyclonic winds to its heart’s content. However, some vets believe it’s unsafe because the dog could be hit by debris, birds, another vehicle, or windblown sand and dust could damage their sensitive eyes.

The Australian Veterinarian Association (AVA) doesn’t think it should be illegal, though, and says, “unless the window opening is such that the dog is at risk of falling out.”

Safety first

If your pet is unrestrained, it can be hazardous to you and other road users.

“It’s very easy to be knocked or distracted by an unrestrained dog or cat while driving, which could result in a crash with potentially catastrophic consequences,” RAA Senior Manager of Safety and Infrastructure, Charles Mountain, says.

Not only can an unrestrained pet cause driver distraction, it could also become a life-threatening projectile if you need to brake suddenly.

“This could result in serious injury or death to your pet, your passengers, or you as the driver,” Charles says.

A safety harness that connects to the seatbelt can be bought at department, hardware or pet stores, while cats and smaller dogs can be restrained in a pet container secured to the vehicle.

Dog in harness
Harnessed and ready to ride. Image: Getty

Although pets are permitted to ride in the front seat, it isn’t recommended due to the injuries they could suffer if the airbag deploys.

The law

Driving with a pet on your lap is illegal and carries a $221 fine, plus $102 Victims of Crime levy.

Under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, driving with an unrestrained dog in the open tray of a ute can lead to a penalty of up to $1250. Accredited assistance dogs and working dogs used for droving or tending stock are exempt from this rule.

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