July 08, 2019 5 min read

Travelling with your fur babies especially dogs is fun and exciting. But with all those fun, safety must come first. You also need to know that per state there are certain road safety rules even if your dog likes to hang out in your lap while you drive. You don't want to end up having a traffic violation on your road trip or worse, having an accident because of a dog not secured while driving.

The general gist of the information police might give you an infringement:

  • All states have some legislation under which you can be charged if your dog is jumping around the car, creating a distraction for you or,
  • Your dog hanging out of the window causing a distraction to other drivers.
  • Having your dog lose on the back of your ute.
  • Driving with your dog standing on the centre console.
  • You are not allowed to carry your dog on your lap whilst driving.
  • If you fail to tether your dog on a utility, all states have traffic legislation which makes it possible to receive an infringement regardless of whether police enforce animal welfare legislation.

 

ROAD RULES STATE BY STATE IN AUSTRALIA

New South Wales

NSW has the harshest fines and section 297  has been widely interpreted when dealing with unrestrained dogs inside a vehicle. If you don’t have your dog secured, you may face a fine.

Section 297 – Dogs are not allowed on the driver's lap and are not to obstruct the driver's vision

Maximum penalty $2200 & 3 demerit points. 

Section 7 (2A) Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act – A person must not carry or convey a dog (other than a dog being used to work livestock), on the open back of a moving vehicle on a public street unless the dog is restrained or enclosed in such a way as to prevent the dog falling from the vehicle.

Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units ($5,500) or imprisonment for 6 months, or both

NSW Police will enforce the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that shows police are willing to infringe drivers who don’t have their dogs restrained inside their vehicle or on the back of utilities.

 

Victoria

Road Safety Rules – section 297 (1) (a) driver is not allowed to drive with a dog on their lap. 5 penalty units – max fine of $635, no demerit points.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations – the dog must not be placed in the boot of a sedan. 5 penalty units – max fine $635

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act: Must not drive a motor vehicle with a tray/trailer and place a dog that is not secured properly on that tray/trailer. 10 p.u – max fine $1270

Victorian police will enforce the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act / Regulations

 

Western Australia

The Road Traffic Code section 263(3) states – a driver must not carry a dog on his lap. $100 fine and 1 demerit point

If transporting your dog on the back of a utility the following RTC provisions may apply;

Insecure Load – where the load is

  • unrestrained and likely to fall, or
  • failure to secure

$150 dollar fine

 

Queensland

In Queensland, there is a specific offence for driving with an animal (or person) on the driver’s lap that carries an infringement notice fine of $284 (s. 297 (1A) of the Queensland Road Rules).

Under the same section, a driver must have proper control of a vehicle.  If a ‘roaming’ dog in a vehicle causes the driver to be distracted from driving then they could commit an offence against this section that also has an infringement notice penalty of $284

If they are distracted enough they may commit an offence against s. 83 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 by Driving without due care and attention.

If serious enough (dependent upon the circumstances) they could possibly commit an offence of Dangerous Operation of a Vehicle under s.328A of the Criminal Code.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads state that animals are considered to be loads in/on a vehicle and need to be restrained/secured properly.  The infringement notice fine for an insecure load is currently $243

Queensland Police may also investigate if an offence under section 18 of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 has been committed by transporting an insecure animal.  If proceedings are commenced under this legislation, the offender would need to go to court to answer the charge/s.

 

South Australia

The Road Traffic Act 1961 allows the Australian Road Rules to apply to drivers in South Australia.

Section 297 – Driver to have proper control of a vehicle, a driver must not drive with an animal on their lap and the driver must have a clear unobstructed view of the road, and traffic, ahead, behind and to each side of the driver. $176 dollars, no demerit points

Section 45 of the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 prohibits a person from transporting a dog on an open tray of a vehicle unless the dog is enclosed or restrained in a way that prevents the dog from falling or escaping from the vehicle. This Act is note commonly enforced by SAPOL

 

Tasmania

Section 297 – Driver to have proper control of a vehicle, a driver must not drive with an animal on their lap and the driver must have a clear unobstructed view of the road, and traffic, ahead, behind and to each side of the driver. Maximum penalty – 10 penalty units  $1540 no demerit points

Section 16(3) of the Dog Control Act 2000 deals with dogs travelling on utilities and requires a person in charge of a dog in or on a vehicle to restrict the dog sufficiently to prevent the dog from leaving the vehicle.

According to Tasmanian police, offences under the Dog Control Act are rarely dealt with by police however they may be dealt with by the RSPCA or local council.

 

Northern Territories

Schedule 3 of the Traffic Regulations (NT) enacts section 297 of the Australian Road Rules which requires a driver to have proper control of a vehicle. A driver must also not drive with an animal on their lap and must have a clear unobstructed view of the road, and traffic, ahead, behind and to each side.

An offence against Schedule 3 s.297 attracts a maximum of 20 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment. At the time of writing one penalty unit is equal to $154

Section 14 of the Animal Welfare Act prohibits a person from transporting a dog in or on a vehicle unless the dog is restrained or enclosed in a way that prevents the dog from falling from the vehicle.

The NT police are typically more tolerant than other states when dogs travel on the back of utilities due to the higher proportion of farms and working dogs. Beware – NT police will enforce the Animal Welfare Act and also have insecure load provisions in the Traffic Regulations (Division 7)

 

Some additional safety pointers for you and your fur babies:

  • As much as possible, we don't recommend dogs on front seats especially unsecured, as inflating airbags may kill them.
  • If an unrestrained dog in your car contributes to an accident, your insurance is at risk of getting void.

 

Here at Travel Pets, we have a wide range of pet accessories not just for dogs but for cats too! We want safety not just for you but for your fur babies (and you not getting any violation), we do recommend our Dog Car Seat Belt paired with our No Pull Pro Dog Harness for those happy road trip bonding moments.