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Comparison website Confused says drivers need to constrain pets

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Financial services website Confused.com has carried out a study which reveals British drivers are overly lax about keeping pets riding in their cars restrained. The research revealed less than 40 per cent of Britain's motorists secured dogs or other pets in a proper carrier or cage before getting behind the wheel.

Confused.com's study found that 11 per cent of the respondents allowed their unleashed pet pooches to travel in the front seat or footwell. A similar percentage confessed to letting their pets be backseat drivers.

While most of the law-breaking pets were of the canine kind some were feline. One motorist said a cat escaped from its carrier and decided to share driving responsibilities by nestling close to the footpedals. Another said a dog riding in the front seat leapt out of the open window.

Pets on the loose are a distraction when driving too. Eight per cent of the respondents owned up to having to physically restrain their pets while driving as well as slamming on the brakes or swerving. Ten per cent had either been in a smash while pets were in the vehicle or were acquainted with somebody who had.

Amanda Stretton is the motoring editor for Confused.com. She explained pets on the loose in vehicles could land the offending driver with a fine as high as £2,500. There is also a danger that the offence could void the vehicle's insurance and the owner could be saddled with claims for damages in the case of an accident.