Last updated on Mar 12th, 2021 at 12:09 pm

The dangers of using a cell phone while behind the wheel are well known, but fewer people are aware that unsecured pets can be dangerous distractions too.

Dogs or cats roaming around freely in moving cars pose a significant risk for accidents caused by driver distraction.

The AA provides seven tips to ensure both you and your four-legged companions journey safely:

1. Pets should always travel in the back

It’s fun to have your furry friend ride shotgun, but it’s dangerous for the animal. If you have an accident (or make an emergency stop) and the airbags deploy, your pet could be severely injured. Animals should never sit on your lap while you’re driving.

2. Use a harness or pet crate while driving

The safest place for animals is sitting or lying on the back seat where they can be safely secured in a harness, or in a pet crate in the uncovered boot area of an SUV.

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3. Keep your windows two-thirds up

We all know how much dogs love sticking their heads out the window and letting their tongues flap in the wind on road trips, so it’s hard to deny them that pleasure. But a sudden tap of the brakes, even a small one, can result in a tragedy with the animal being ejected from the car.

4. Pack some stress relief

Travelling in a car can be stressful for animals, so have a few of their favourite toys and a comfy blanket in the back seat or boot area to help them relax. If your pets are at ease, the driving experience will be safer and more enjoyable all round.

When a car has been parked in the sun for just half an hour in warm climates, the cabin temperature can rise to as much as 70°C – which is hot enough to fry an egg

5. Take a break every hour or two

Long drives can get dull, especially for Fluffy and Fido. Take a break every hour or two to let your pets stretch their legs, play a bit, drink some water, and relieve themselves. Let’s be honest, you’ll probably want to do all those things too!

6. Never leave your pets alone in the car

When a car has been parked in the sun for just half an hour in warm climates, the cabin temperature can rise to as much as 70°C – which is hot enough to fry an egg. That’s easily high enough to cause animals heatstroke.

7. Get a pet ID

Attach a tag to your pet’s collar with your phone number on it, just in case your dog or cat escapes from the car, through a window or an open door. A pet ID tag is essential for people to be able to get in touch with you if an animal runs off.

Investing in a vehicle with extra safety features and generous cabin space will add to your peace of mind and enhance the comfort of your trip. Across Ford’s range of SUVs – the EcoSport, Everest and New Kuga – there is ample headroom so you and your pets don’t feel cramped, and plenty of storage space so you can pack water bowls, toys, blankets and anything else your animals might need.

Watch this cute pet safety video for travel tips: