For many Brits, owning a dog is like having an extra best friend or family member.

But would you be happy for your best friend or child to travel with you in a car and never wear a seatbelt?

Probably not, but that’s exactly what almost a third of dog owners do on a regular basis.

A new survey by Ford has uncovered that 32 per cent of dog-owning motorists do not strap in their dog in while on the move, with the manufacturer surveying 5,000 drivers across the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Of those not securing their pets, 32 per cent said it was because their dogs didn’t like to be strapped in, 31 per cent said they didn’t see the need to secure them on short journeys, and 14 per cent said it was because a dog crate wouldn’t fit in their car.

More disturbingly, a quarter of motorists admitted to letting their dogs poke out of the window, while a small minority said that their pets had fallen or jumped out of the window of the car, as well as being involved in an accident after getting distracted by their pets.

By not caging or fastening in a dog in their vehicle whilst on the move, drivers are not only putting their pets at risk but also passengers and other road users too.

Graeme Hall, a dog training expert, said: “If you have a pet, please think of its safety in the same way you would about any other member of the family. I always carry my dog in the boot in her crate. She can comfortably move around and everyone’s safe. I believe that’s the best solution.”

Unsurprisingly, Ford has put a twist on this tale with its new Focus Estate. The boot is designed to accommodate even the largest dog crates — meaning dog owners don’t have to worry about not being able to fit pet cages in their cars.

Dog lover Rene Berns, an engineer at Ford, brought his three-year-old Australian Shepherd dog, named Emil, along to ensure that the boot could accommodate his hound, while Ford claims there’s even enough room in the back for an Irish Wolfhound — the tallest breed of dog.

Berns said: “I know how much it means to me to be able to take Emil with me wherever I am going, and I’m proud that he has helped make that easier for other dog owners and their pets to travel safely and in comfort.”

Ford’s latest Focus Estate, which has been on sale since last year, is available with a range of petrol and diesel options, with prices starting from £19,400.