As COVID-19 restrictions ease and more Australians hit the road this Christmas, Standards Australia has launched a world-first project to create a standard for seatbelt accessories, including for pets traveling in motor vehicles.
Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world – about 61 per cent of households are home to some 29 million animals. Dogs are the most popular animal companions (40%), followed by cats (27%) .
Yet when it comes to road safety, there is no national standard on the design or manufacture of car restraints to keep our pets safe.
According to the RSPCA, 5,000 dogs each year are either injured or killed as a result of jumping from a moving car because they were not properly secured.
Standards Australia CEO Adrian O’Connell said that an industry standard on seatbelt accessories was essential for keeping motorists and their pets safe and secure as they travel during the busy holiday period.
“Research shows that unsecured or improperly secured pets traveling in vehicles represents a risk to the safety and welfare of not only the animal, but to every occupant in the vehicle and other motorists,” Mr O’Connell said.
“As we head into the time of year when road accidents are more common, drivers need to be mindful of minimising distractions that can arise when an animal isn’t safely secured,” Mr O’Connell concluded.
“Road rules about pet safety in vehicles – including how to best secure your pet – varies between states and territories, making it very difficult for pet owners to follow best practice.”
“A national standard that supports manufacturers in the design and development of pet seatbelt accessories, along with a number of other specific-use seatbelt products, will provide much-needed guidance to support consumer confidence,” Mr O’Connell said.
The Seat Belts for Use in Motor Vehicles project launched by Standards Australia will develop the world’s first standard on all accessories for seatbelts used in motor vehicles.
The project is specifically designed to support manufacturers and provide quality assurance to consumers who require additional safety features not provided by standard motor vehicle seatbelts, such as people living with disabilities, people who require modified seatbelts, pregnant women, and pets.
“Seatbelts provide enough safety for the majority of people, but there are people who are not catered for, so appropriate accessories are necessary.”
“There are a wide range of seatbelt accessories currently available, from a ‘seat belt reacher’ which extends the handles of the belt reducing the need to twist your body, to accessories designed to extend the seatbelt underneath a pregnant person’s body, protecting them and their unborn child.
“A national standard on these accessories will give people confidence and support the regulators in recognising best practice products designed to keep more people safe,” Mr O’Connell said.
The Standards Australia previously developed AS/NZS 8005:2013, Accessories for child restraints for use in motor vehicles, a standard that aims to better support enhancing safety for children.
“AS 8005 was the first to cover seatbelt accessories, but it doesn’t go further than the need for child restraints,” Mr O’Connell said.
“A national standard on seatbelt accessories will help prevent injury to motorists, passengers and thousands of pets that are unnecessarily injured every year as a result of not being properly restrained when travelling in cars.
“Standards Australia is proud to be kicking off this world-first safety project, which is one of many great examples of how we are working towards our vision of being a global leader in trusted solutions that improve life – today and tomorrow,” he said.