Travelling with a pet dog in the car helps motorists to drive more cautiously and reduces stress behind the wheel, according to new research.
Some drivers might not think twice about how they behave at the wheel with family on board but, apparently, a pooch passenger has a calming effect on more than half of motorists.
The study by Spanish car maker SEAT, revealed that 54 per cent of dog-owning motorists admitted that they drive more carefully with their furry companions in the car with them.
The influence of having a pet pooch on board may be even more pronounced among younger drivers. Recognised as among the most at-risk age group on UK roads, over two thirds (69 per cent) of motorists aged 18-24 said they drive more carefully with their dog in the car.
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Older drivers were least affected by their in-car canines, with 42 per cent of over-55s saying that travelling with their dogs makes them drive in a more cautious manner.
Motorists in London and the North East were most likely to behave differently if their dog was in the car, with 70 per cent and 66 per cent respectively saying it would make them more careful behind the wheel.
As well as driving more cautiously, the presence of a dog in the car also appears to benefit mental health by reducing drivers’ stress levels, with over a third of drivers (35 per cent) said that they feel calmer at the wheel if their dog is travelling in the car with them.
Despite dogs being an unlikely hero in helping Brits drive more carefully, some motorists are still unaware of the laws around travelling with dogs in the car.
Over a third of dog-owning drivers were unsure whether there were any rules at all and a fifth admitted they didn’t restrain their dog in the car, despite the Highway Code making it clear that they should.
More than 90 per cent were unaware that they could be fined up to £5,000 fine and have nine points put on their licence if they allow their pet to distract them and cause them to drive without due care and attention.
Nigel Griggs, head of aftersales at SEAT UK commented, saying: “Everyone knows the British public is passionate about its dogs, however, this study confirms that having their best friend in the car can contribute to safer driving while also having a positive mental health benefit by reducing stress levels. It appears to be a win win.”