Dog wearing seatbelt

Car makers urged to do more to protect pets

New technology can help cars avoid hitting obstacles in the road, but it may not recognise pets.

That’s according to online car buying platform carwow, which found that two cars fitted with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems did not automatically stop for a lifesize model cat and dog.

AEB is becoming increasingly common on new cars. The technology monitors the road ahead and will automatically brake the car if the driver fails to respond to a collision threat.

Dog holding pet

But while AEB is designed to stop for pedestrians and vehicles, and some systems include large-animal detection, it may not always detect or react to smaller animals such as cats and dogs.

In an investigation by carwow, both a Tesla Model 3 and Volvo V90 equipped with driver assistance systems, including AEB, did not apply the brakes when each approached a model dog or a taxidermied cat.

Responding to the findings, the RSPCA called on manufacturers to improve the technology so that cars stop for cats and dogs.

“We know how devastating it is for both pets and their owners when pets are sadly hit by a vehicle,” said Dr Jane Tyson, senior scientific officer for the charity. “We have also seen first-hand the tragic fatalities or severe injuries animals can suffer as a result of a collision.

“We would therefore welcome car manufacturers developing auto-braking systems that detect pets as well as people and other vehicles in order to stop tragic incidents like this from happening.”

Recent research by feline welfare charity Cats Protection found that almost one in 20 cats was injured in a traffic accident last year. Neutering, keeping your cat indoors at night, giving them a reflective collar, and specialist garden fencing can all help to reduce the risk of your cat being injured on the road.

Any pet involved in a road traffic accident should be checked by a vet straight away — even if they don’t have obvious signs of injury, as there could be serious internal injuries that you can’t see from the outside, according to veterinary charity PDSA.

With pet insurance from Purely Pets, you can be covered for vets bills for accidents, illness or both up to a fixed monetary amount. We offer 15 levels of Lifetime cover, allowing you to choose the policy that suits your budget and requirements.