In July 2009, legislation was introduced in NSW making unrestrained animals in your car against the law. The NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) website does not go into a great deal of information regarding this situation, however, it does provide the following two points:
In October 2009, the SMH did an article that gave far more detail. Providing the following points:
Drivers caught with unrestrained dogs risk fines of more than $400.
The legislation, stipulates that motorists must not drive a vehicle with an animal on their lap or preventing them from having proper control of the car. Doing so carries a penalty of three demerit points and $338, rising to $422 in a school zone.
Obviously no one wants distracted drivers on the road, however, this legislation also includes animal welfare points:
If an animal is injured as a result of being unrestrained, owners also face up to six months' jail and fines of up to $5500 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The RSPCA managing inspector, Matthew French, said that conveying dogs untethered on the back of utes could land drivers with on-the-spot fines of $500 under the Act.
During my research, I also came across a very interesting point related to pets travelling in the front seat on a US website DMV.org. This website explains why dogs as a general rule should not travel in the front seat:
While airbags are a great safety asset to adults in the time of an accident, they can wreak havoc on tots and dogs. If your car does not have a passenger-side airbag, however, it is usually acceptable for the dog to ride along in the front seat, as long as they are properly restrained.
I think that there are five important points that we all need to take away from this legislation:
Drivers must not drive with their pets in their lap. (RMS & SMH)
Animals must be restrained whilst in the car. (SMH)
As a general rule, pets should not ride in the front seat of the car for their own safety. (DMV.org)
Dogs in the back of utes must be restrained. (SMH)
Drivers face jail time and significant fines if animals in their car are injured as a result of being unrestrained. (SMH)