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Issue:- 09/10 September 2009

The Cuddly Killers – pets in cars

RAS a nation of animal lovers motorists in the UK regularly transport pampered pooches and favoured felines when taking a trip in the car, however new research results launched today show that a staggering 40 per cent of drivers don’t restrain their pets at all when they are on the road – risking a crash because they’re distracted and possibly being crushed by their beloved animal.

The new research revealed today by Autoglass® also found that seven out of ten motorists (71%) don’t realise they can receive a fine or even points on their licence if police officers see that a dog is unrestrained in the car – particularly if it is moving around and distracting the driver. Those motorists surveyed seem uncertain about the law with 44 per cent of those questioned unsure whether it is illegal to have pets unrestrained and whether any laws apply.

While the survey results show that women are more careful with 36 per cent driving with unrestrained animals, almost half of men would risk having a loose pet on board (46%). The statistics also show a distinct north/south divide, with the top three regions in the country regularly risking having pets loose in the car are in the north of the UK:-

1. Yorkshire & Humber
2. Scotland
3. North East
4. Wales
5. South West
6. North West
7. London
8. West Midlands
9. South East
10. East Anglia

The law on travelling with pets in cars is far from straight forward as there is no law against it however the Highway Code states that "motorists should make sure that dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while driving or injure you or themselves if you stop quickly".

Police officers can fine motorists and possibly issue penalty points for driving without due care and attention if an animal is jumping around the vehicle distracting the driver - in a similar way if a motorist was caught using a mobile phone.

Apart from the distraction element if a vehicle is forced to stop suddenly, anything unrestrained will be catapulted forward at the same speed the vehicle was travelling. For example at 30mph a dog will be thrown forward at 30mph and will hit whatever is in front of them, such as the windscreen, the driver or possibly other passengers.  During a 30mph accident the animal’s body weight also increases by more than 30 times. This means that an average family Labrador sat on the back seat would be thrown forward with a one tonne weight – easily injuring those in the front.

Nigel Doggett, managing director of Autoglass®, says:- “Having anything in the vehicle that will distract the driver is obviously dangerous and in the case of unrestrained pets this danger is two fold as apart from the risk of causing an accident, in the event of a collision any dog not restrained could crush the driver or passengers. Drivers don’t always realise they can face hefty fines if caught, for example last year one driver in North Tyneside was fined £300 after a speed camera photographed him with a Chihuahua on his lap while driving. We would always advise motorists not to take this unnecessary risk as it could result in harming you and your pet. Always think sensibly about transporting pets and ensure they are restrained whether this is via a cage, harness or dog guards.”

PDSA supports the Autoglass message for people to properly restrain their pets when travelling. PDSA senior vet Elaine Pendlebury explains:- “Travelling with a pet brings with it many responsibilities. One of the most important is making sure that any pets are properly restrained in a car to help keep you, any passengers, and your pet safe from harm in the event of an accident. Having a pet on the loose in the car is a recipe for disaster. I have lost count of the amount of times I have seen dogs sat up front with their owners or hanging their head out of the car window. I even saw a driver once with a cat draped around his shoulders and quite a few dogs on the back passenger ledge! While this might seem like a bit of fun, the consequences for drivers, pedestrians and the pets could be fatal if there’s an accident. Preparation, by using pet seat belts or appropriately sized carriers for smaller pets, and common sense, are key when your pet travels in the car with you. As a treasured member of the family, your pet deserves to enjoy a happy and safe journey too.”

Women in the North West risk lives by delaying calling 999

A third of women (33%) wouldn’t recognise they are suffering a heart attack because they would expect to experience crushing or severe chest pain, a symptom which mainly affects men, according to survey results released by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) on 999 Day.

The results come as new figures show heart attacks claim the lives of approximately 6,230 women and 6,570 men in the North West (regional figures in table in notes to editors) every year. Around 90,000 people die from heart attacks every year. A third of people die before reaching hospital often because they have waited too long to seek medical help which is why the BHF is reminding people to call 999 if they think they are having a heart attack.

Worryingly the survey also showed that more than a third of women (35%) wouldn’t call 999 if they were experiencing unusual chest pains for fear of being left red faced if it turned out not to be serious.

These results are reflected in official figures which confirm that women are most likely to put off dialling 999 waiting on average 24 minutes longer than men after first experiencing heart attack symptoms – dramatically cutting their chances of survival.  Dr Mike Knapton, BHF Associate Medical Director, says:- “Every second counts when you are having a heart attack and calling 999 at the very first sign means you are much more likely to survive. Heart attack symptoms do affect people differently so it is vital that women – and men - familiarise themselves with them and use today’s date to help them remember that by calling 999 they are giving themselves the best possible chance at surviving. There is no need to feel embarrassed about getting it wrong – saving your life is more important than saving face.”

While the symptoms of a heart attack can vary from one person to another, women are more likely to experience ‘unusual symptoms’ like a dull pain, ache or ‘heavy’ feeling in the chest, a mild discomfort in the chest that makes you feel generally unwell, a pain in your chest that can spread to the back or stomach, a chest pain that feels like a bad episode of indigestion or feeling light-headed or dizzy as well as having chest pain.

The most common symptoms of a heart attack which both men and women experience include: central chest pain (a pain in the centre of the chest); a pain which can spread to the arms, neck and jaw; feeling sick or sweaty as well as having central chest pain; and/or feeling short of breath as well as having central chest pain.

For more information about heart attack symptoms visit:-


ACTION for Children is looking for brave and willing participants to abseil 50m down the Mersey Tunnel Ventilation Shaft in Birkenhead.  The challenging fundraising event which will offer stunning views across the River Mersey is back by popular demand and taking place on Sunday, 27 September 2009. General places for the event are no longer available but charity places with Action for Children are still up for grabs. The event promises to give participants an experience to remember, as well as raising much needed funds for the children’s charity.

The registration fee is just £30 and participants are asked to raise a minimum of £100 for Action for Children. This fee includes qualified and professional instructors, all equipment and registration.  Action for Children Fundraiser, Helen Noble said:- “The Ventilation Shaft provides an ideal venue for both first time and more experienced abseilers looking for an adrenaline rush. We’re asking local people to take time out of their weekend to help us raise as much money as possible – and we know Merseyside has its fair share of thrillseekers! All money raised will help support some of the most vulnerable and excluded children, young people and their families in Merseyside - dare yourself to descend!”

No experience is required as all training will be given. For further information and to register for a place, contact:- or telephone:- 01925 715385.

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