Australian road rules when travelling with your dog. Are you risking a fine?

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A google search for ‘road rules when travelling with your dog in Australia’ produces some pretty ambiguous results. Given 99% of Black Hound’s clients are people that dote on their dogs, I don’t believe I need to preach to the converted on the merits of securing your dog when he’s on the road with you. I do however receive emails asking what the penalty is  state by state so I decided to embark on a project, phoning each state police department to get the lowdown on what road rules, and infringements, are enforceable in each state.

The general gist of the information I received was this:

  • If you are doing something ‘silly’ in your vehicle or putting lives at risk, including that of your dog, police do not need a specific ‘dog’ offence to give you an infringement. This might include your dog hanging out of the window causing a distraction to other drivers, having your dog lose on the back of your ute, or even driving with your dog standing on the centre console.
  • If your dog is jumping around the car, creating a distraction for you, all states have some piece of legislation under which you can be charged.
  • you are NOT allowed to carry your dog on your lap whilst driving
  • Regardless of whether police enforce animal welfare legislation, all states have traffic legislation which makes it possible to receive an infringement for failing to tether your dog on a utility

As a former police officer I’d like to add that most emergency responders have stories of attending road accidents where dogs have been injured (and killed), usually as a result of ejection through the front window. According to the RSPCA nearly 5000 dogs either die or are severely injured each year in road vehicle accidents. Regrettably some of these deaths are simply as a result of heavy breaking and are preventable. Unrestrained items (including dogs) are also a cause of injuries to occupants of vehicles. The most extreme injury I am aware that a driver has sustained as the result of an unrestrained dog in the car is paraplegia

At Black Hound we have two options for safety conscious drivers:

  • The Swedish designed and built MIMSafe Variocrates and Gates which have been crash tested to European SPCT standards – you will find those here
  •  The European designed and built Crash Tested Harness

A couple of other points that I think are worthy of mentioning

  • Please don’t put dogs on front seats as inflating air bags may kill them
  • You risk voiding your insurance if an unrestrained dog in your car contributes to an accident

The best thing you can do for yourself and for your pet’s safety is to ensure they are always secured when travelling inside your car or on the back of your utility.

ROAD RULES STATE BY STATE IN AUSTRALIA

NSW

NSW have 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 drivers lap and are not to obstruct the drivers 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.

VIC

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 – 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

WA

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

QLD

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

 

SA

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

TAS

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.

NT

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 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)

 

 

 

 

 

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