Australian drivers, as a country of pet lovers, routinely move their canine friends Most Australians will accept that wearing seat belts is an effective measure of protection, but many never used a dog’s seatbelt or harness to keep their dog safe.

The laws adopted in Australia in 2013 forbid a pet from sitting near the driver seat of a car for safety purposes.

What are the Regulations and Laws?

The RMS (Roads and Maritime Services) advises that the authorities may fine the owner and give demerit points if the dog causes the user to not be in full control of the car or if he or she drives with the animal on his/her lap. The penalty is 3 penalty points and $425 (more in a school zone).

Whether it’s in Victoria or NSW dog restraint laws are almost the same in every city.

  • The owner must not travel with the dog on his/her lap. 
  • A motorcyclist must not drive with the dog in between the rider and the handlebars.
  • Pets should be housed or seated in a safe area of the car.
  • Dogs on the utes should be held back either by a cage or a tether, so that the pet cannot slip off or be hurt as the vehicle moves.

RSPCA can also impose fines under the Anti-Cruelty to Animals Act. When an animal is hurt because it was unrestrained, owners risk up to 6 months’ incarceration and a penalty of up to $5,500. Carrying dogs undeterred on the back of the utes will land drivers with a ticket of $500.

There is no law prohibiting a dog to ride in the front passenger side, but please be aware that airbags are deployed with extreme force and can seriously hurt or even kill a dog if it is hit by an exploded airbag.

Laws, penalty points and fines can vary marginally from state to state. To find out what law applies in your country or territory, please contact your territory or state Transport Department:

  • New South Wales – Roads and Maritime Services
  • Tasmania – Department of State Growth, Transport
  • Northern Territory – Department of Transport
  • Australian Capital Territory – Transport for Canberra
  • Queensland – Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • South Australia – My License SA
  • Western Australia – Department of Transport
  • Victoria – VicRoads

Should I control my dog in the car?

Well, in fact, yes. Restricting your dog can have a range of safety advantages for both your occupants and the dog in the car. RSPCA figures show that about 5,000 dogs are killed or seriously injured each year in Australia as a consequence of falling from a moving car.

  • Correctly confined dogs cannot move within the car and thus minimize the disturbance to the driver.
  • In a collision or under heavy acceleration, a properly kept dog is less prone to become airborne, reducing the likelihood of serious injury to the dog, the driver and other passengers or other cars.
  • Restricting your pet may also help stop it from leaping out of the moving car or the back of the truck that could lead to injury to the dog and other drivers on the road.

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