Almost one-in-four motorists have driven with unrestrained pets in their car, recent research from the AA has found.
A survey of over 4,000 motorists found that 24.88% of those surveyed admitted to driving with a pet in the car without using proper restraints on at least one occasion.
It also found that 6.67% of respondents admitted to doing this within the past month, a move which the AA says can increase the risk of the driver being distracted.
Conor Faughnan, AA director of consumer affairs said: "Many people will have seen our new car insurance advertising campaign with our dog Mulligan who is a big fan of driving around in the car, but if you are travelling anywhere with a pet it’s important that you use a pet safety belt or a travel carrier as opposed to having them loose in the car with you.
"While it may seem harmless to allow your pet to pop his head out the window or sit in the passenger seat next to you, animals are, by their nature, unpredictable and could easily become startled or react in a way which takes your concentration off the task at hand.
"Ultimately, very few people would allow a passenger in their car without using a seatbelt and we need to take the same precaution with our pets too."
In contrast, the survey found that less than 1% of motorists had driven a car where one or more passengers were not using their seatbelts in the past month.
In total, just 0.82% of respondents admitted to driving with an unrestrained passenger in their car in the past month.
But when asked to consider their entire driving history, 11.4% of motorists admitted to driving while one or more passengers were not using their seatbelt on at least one occasion in the past.