How often do you take your pet for a ride in the car? Whether you’re headed for the dog park, the vet or just a stroll around town, car rides are probably a favorite pastime for you and your furry friend.
While there’s nothing cuter than seeing a dog’s smiling face sticking outside the window, an unrestrained pet can be dangerous to both you and your animal companion.
Pets are a Distraction to Drivers
According to Matt Sharp Law, one in five drivers admits to driving with an unrestrained dog in the car. Many of those drivers say that they are distracted by their dog moving around the vehicle.
Drivers also admitted that they:
- Give their dogs treats and snacks
- Allow their dogs to sit in their laps
- Hold their dogs in place while braking
- Play with or pet their dogs
- Take photos of their dogs
We’ve all seen those drivers who allow their small dogs to sleep in the back, just underneath the rear windshield. One short stop, and those dogs will go flying off onto the floor or crashing into the back of the front seat.
There’s no doubt about it – unrestrained dogs and other pets are a distraction to drivers, and that can increase your risk of an accident.
Pets Increase Your Accident Risk
Taking your eyes off of the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of getting into an accident. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 80% of drivers know the dangers of driving with an unrestrained pet, but only 16% actually use pet restraints.
Dogs can be killed by inflating airbags, even if the dog is restrained.
Some States Have Laws Against Unrestrained Pets
Animal protection laws vary from state to state, but there are some states that have laws against transporting unrestrained pets in vehicles.
Even if the state does not have pet-specific laws, drivers may be charged with distracted driving if the pet is in their lap or unrestrained in the vehicle.
Some states will charge drivers with impeding the safe operation of a motor vehicle. Other states have laws that require dogs to wear seat belts or be secured in a crate. In some cases, traveling with an unrestrained animal may constitute as cruelty to animals.
Making Car Rides Safe
It is possible to travel safely with your pets in the vehicle, and there are a number of products designed to do so, including:
- Pet belts
Backseat hammocks are great for drivers who want their pets to ride in the backseat or those who drive a regular car. SUVs may have trunks suitable for dog guards, but a car’s trunk design is not suitable for pet transport.
Don’t let your dog hang out of the window while driving. Not only is it unsafe, but it can also dry out your pup’s eyes.
Make sure that the car is well-ventilated. Vehicles can get very hot, very quickly for dogs.
A free-roaming pet is a distraction and a danger to both you and other drivers on the road. Take steps to make sure that you’re properly restraining your animals before hitting the road, especially if you’re taking a long road trip.