If you’ve ever driven a car with a pet sitting on your lap you would’ve been at risk of copping a hefty fine.
Hundreds of have been caught out but experts say many have no idea it’s illegal.
“Would you do it with a kid? That’s probably the simple thing. It’s not safe,” Torrens Road Veterinary clinic’s Dr Jenny Weston said.
And for those in NSW, the punishment is severe. Drivers can face a maximum fine of up to $2200 and three demerit points.
Victoria drivers can fork out up to $635, while South Australia motorists pay $244 for the offence.
If caught in Queensland, the fee is $284 and in WA its $100 and one demerit point.
“An animal can be thrown around the vehicle which increases it’s chances of being injured or worse but it also creates a risk of injury to the driver and other passengers in the vehicle,” Royal Automobile Association’s Graeme O’Dea said.
Dr Weston has seen first-hand the damage it can do. In the past year alone, she’s treated at least four unrestrained animals, injured in crashes.
“Let’s say you’re doing 20 kilometres an hour, that dog’s face is going to hit the dash at 20 km’s, that’s a pretty significant injury. But if you’re doing 60 or more – big injuries,” she explained.
While having an unrestrained pet in other parts of the the car isn’t illegal in some states, drivers are still being urged to secure them while on the road.
“You can have individual crates, cages, things like that but seatbelts are probably the ultimate,” Dr Weston said.
But during the summer period and on hot days, the RAA suggests it might be best to leave your pets at home.
“The safest and best place for those pets in this weather is home with their own water supply, their own shade and things,” Mr O’Dea said.