Paws and secure your puppy

03 December 2013

An NRMA Insurance test of popular pet harnesses has revealed that a number are not effective in restraining pets in common low speed collisions.

NRMA Insurance Head of Research Robert McDonald said the testing was undertaken to urge pet owners to consider the safety of their pets and passengers when travelling in vehicles.

“Our tests showed that an unrestrained pet sitting on the back seat of a car can hit the dashboard with enough force to cause serious injury, even at a collision speed below 20km/h,” said Mr McDonald. 

NRMA Insurance tested a variety of dog safety harnesses on the market using life size and correctly weighted dog ‘dummies’ at speeds of up to 35km/h.

Of the 25 pet harnesses tested across a range of manufacturers, all but two failed to restrain the ‘dummy’, due to the use of weak plastic buckles similar to those used on most backpacks.  

The only two harnesses that didn’t fail were the Purina Roadie harness and the Sleepypod Clickit harness. Unlike the other harnesses, the adjusting buckles and webbing stood up to both the 35km/h drop test and in-car low speed crash test of up to 20km/h.  

“Most people using the commonly available harnesses are doing so in a genuine attempt to keep their pets safe. However our testing has unfortunately shown that most harnesses, while effective at restraining pets, are not safety devices and do little to prevent injury in a common low speed crash. 

“An effective harness is critical when travelling with a pet as it keeps the animal safe and restrained and avoids the driver being distracted while driving with the animal moving around inside the vehicle. In a collision, an unrestrained pet also has the potential to injure the other passengers in the vehicle.  

“Many dogs weigh over 20kg with some over 50kg. The Purina Roadie harness proved effective at restraining dogs up to 35kg, while the more expensive Sleepypod Clickit harness tested to be more suitable for larger animals,” said Mr McDonald.  

Additionally, in a survey of 450 NSW dog owners, over 40 per cent admitted to the insurer that they don’t restrain their dog when it’s travelling in the car. Dog owners are simply placing them on the front or back seat (70 per cent), in the back luggage area (15 per cent) or alarmingly on their lap (4 per cent)*

“Just as you restrain a child in the car, we want to urge all dog owners to consider these results and ensure their furry friend is secured safely when travelling in the car,” said McDonald. 

Pet owners should be reminded that a driver must not drive a vehicle if an animal is in the driver’s lap – they will incur a significant fine and loss of points**

The testing was conducted by dropping weighted harnesses at speeds of up to 35km/h. The in-car testing was conducted using a specially modified crash test car at speeds of up to 20km/h.  The tests were completed at the NRMA Insurance Research Centre in Sydney. 

Dog car harness test results^

Harness Results
Purina 'Roadie' Pass
Sleepypod 'Clickit' Pass
Animates 'Car Safety Harness' Fail
Black Dog 'Car Harness' Fail
Masterpet '2 in 1 Car Harness' Fail
Rudducks 'Car Harness' Fail

^ Shortlist of the most readily available harnesses.

* Based on Pure Profile research conducted in October 2013.

** Rule 297 (1A), Road Rules 2008 (NSW) -

*** The Purina Roadie will be available this month and for details on where to buy it, go to or call Purina’s Pet Care Advice Team on 1800 738 238. The Sleepypod Clickit is available now.

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