Hundreds of Queenslanders are being fined for this little-known road rule.
Hundreds of Queenslanders are being fined for this little-known road rule.

Are you breaking this little-known road rule?

HUNDREDS of Queenslanders have been charged in the past five years for driving with an animal or person on their lap, new data has revealed.

More than 800 charges and infringement notices have been made since 2014 against people driving with a person or animal on their lap, including 109 last year and 164 the year prior.

Data from the Department of Transport and Main Roads reveals the worst year for offences appeared to be 2014, when 210 charges and infringment notices were issued.

"It is an offence to drive with an animal on your lap or to drive when you don't have proper control of your vehicle," a Transport and Main Roads spokeswoman said.

"We recommend animals travelling inside your vehicle be restrained in some way for the safety and welfare of the animal and occupants."

Driving with an animal on your lap, or riding a motorbike with an animal between your arms or legs can attract an on-the-spot fine of $304 and a maximum penalty of $2611 if the matter is referred to court.

"This behaviour is dangerous as animals can be unpredictable and could potentially cause the driver or rider to lose control of a vehicle," the department spokeswoman said.

RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding said the figures showed there was "obviously some level of unawareness" of these less common road rules and the safety reasons behind them.

 

Myrrah Diamond and her dog Henry. Picture: Jamie Hanson
Myrrah Diamond and her dog Henry. Picture: Jamie Hanson

 

"Driving with an animal on your lap is dangerous as well as distracting," he said.

"You risk losing control of your vehicle or not be able to respond to an unfolding situation because the animal is an obstruction".

He said the outcomes can be serious and possibly fatal.

The RSPCA does not have a specific policy on how best to restrain a dog while travelling in the car, but strongly advise against travelling with a pet loose on the lap.

"At this stage, RSPCA Australia considers that further research using non-animal models is needed to determine the safest and most effective way of restraining dogs and other pets in cars in order to reduce the risk of injury to the animal; other occupants in the car and other road users," RSPCA spokeswoman Alex Hyndman Hill said.

Fur-parent Myrrah Diamond was shocked to learn the number of people charged with the offence.

"It's super unsafe having your pet on your lap," she said.

"I just see it as you wouldn't let your child sit there, so why would you with a dog?"

Ms Diamond's 10-month-old pooch Henry sits in the back seat of her car and is slowly being eased into travelling in a Ute tray.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads said if an animal is carried in the tray of a Ute or in a trailer, it is classed as a load and must be safely restrained.

Number of specified charged offences and infringement notices issued in Queensland:

2014: 210

2015: 203

2016: 148

2017: 164

2018: 109



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