The pet carriers we have come with loops in the top so you can use the seat belt to hold the carrier in place. This seems like a great idea, but I think front and/or rear impact accidents are most common, which means my pet would probably go head first into the carrier door.

Facing Front

I usually place the carriers in the back seat, side facing with the seat belt pulled snugly against the carrier. Most carriers have a two piece design that leaves a ridge half way up that snuggles nicely with the seat belt. In the event of a front and/or rear impact accident the pet would impact the side of the carrier with their side.

Side Facing

What is the safest position for a pet carrier in a car?

  • Related: pets.stackexchange.com/q/523/31 Oct 25, 2015 at 18:16
  • I put my car behind the back seat on the floor with the door facing the interior (side to side) then I use the front passenger seatbelt and run it thru the carrier handles And attach it to the back seatbelt. What do you think?
    – Wina G
    Nov 6, 2017 at 21:48
  • @WinaG I think that is a good solution in your case, I usually have a passenger in my front passenger seat which rules out using that seat belt. My larger carrier will not fit on the floor between the seats. Depending on your car, carrier, pet, passenger, etc combination, there are many solutions that are best for specific combinations. Nov 7, 2017 at 12:15

2 Answers 2


Warning The type of carrier pictured in the question may not be the optimal choice for pet protection during an accident. The following answer is specific to the type of carrier in the question.

After some research it appears there is only one group testing pet carriers in accidents. Center for Pet Safety this is a non-profit who received funding from Subaru. There are no standards or regulation and the level of testing is nowhere near as complete as human crash testing.

The current level of testing is not about the pets survival but about the crates. Many of the crates tested, broke during testing. With crash dummy pets being fully or partially ejected.

Of the two positions for carriers in the question, the side to side seems to offer more protection. Pets impacting the carrier door during an accident tended to be ejected. Additionally carriers that were not held tightly to the seat seemed to suffer more damage, so using the seat belt tends to offer more protection.

The carriers pictured in the question are popular due to their relatively low cost and ease of cleaning. There are several different manufactures of this type of carrier, not all have been tested and there are various results from those tested, some test pets were ejected through the side of this type of carrier!

Of the two choices in the question, side to side, secured with the seat belt is better. But may not be the best possible solution. There are many variables, including the size of the pet. There is insufficient information at this time for conclusion about injuries based on the pets positioning inside carrier, that are not ejected. A more complete summery is available here (2015 PDF)

  • wonder if they also tested having the carrier sitting on the floor in between the seats. That position could potentially prevent the carrier from flying through the cabin.
    – jwenting
    Oct 28, 2015 at 11:42
  • Anything not tied down during an accident becomes a projectile. If the car jumps a bit when impacted the carrier jumps up, and fly's around the inside of the car, both you and your pet die. Google 'loose objects in car accidents' Oct 28, 2015 at 12:38

IMPORTANT, some info here is misguided. Per the Center for Pet Safety, you’ll see that they DON’T recommend putting carrier on the seat, even with a seat belt. Copied this from that site:

Securing Pet Carriers –

While it is intuitive for most people to “buckle up” their pet’s carrier – DON’T! – unless the manufacturer provides you with crash test video to illustrate structural integrity. Using a seatbelt to secure a carrier can actually crush the carrier if you get into an accident.

Instead – put the small carrier on the floor of the vehicle behind the front passenger or driver seat. Source

  • Thanks for you post, I made some minor changes to it, and include a link to the source. While I agree that most pet carriers have safety issues, I am not convinced that the floor is safer for anyone. If the carrier is on the floor, and not tied down during an accident what would happen? I did not find any videos on the site that tested this suggestion. If you can find testing that shows this is better please include it, Also note that the floor may be considerably warmer while driving which can have it's own risks. There are no absolutes. Mar 22, 2020 at 11:44

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