A new study has found that nearly a third of drivers are risking the safety of their pet and themselves by not safely securing a dog while driving.

The survey uncovered that 29 per cent do not restrain their dogs while on the move, and as well as exposing a risk of injury, this could also lead to drivers facing a fine of up to £5,000 and up to nine points being added to their driving licence.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, which commissioned the research, found that 41 per cent of van drivers prefer to take their dogs out and about with them, rather than leave them at home.

More worryingly, 10 per cent said they had been involved in an accident while their pet was with them, or know of someone who has.

The Highway Code states that dogs should be ‘suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly’. Motorists who don’t do this could face a £1,000 fine for driving without proper control, or in the most extreme circumstances a £5,000 fine and nine penalty points for careless driving. Insurance could also be invalidated.

Methods of safely restraining a dog in a vehicle include using a comfortable seat belt harness, a pet carrier and a dog cage.

Kate Thompson, head of marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “After such an extended period at home last year, we know that, now more than ever, van drivers don’t want to leave their dogs at home or with dog sitters when they go to work.

“It is important to be aware, however, of the risks attached whether it is distractions while driving and near misses or the possible fines attached to driving with unrestrained pets. We aim to work with our customers so they can get back on the road safely.”