Driving With Pets
Dogs love going for a ride in the car with their owners. Oftentimes you may be driving down the road and see a dog sticking its head out the window, or sometimes you may see the dog sitting on their owner’s lap. Perhaps you even do this with your own dog. In a 2010 survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA), 20% of participants admitted to letting their dog sit on their lap while driving. But an estimated 31% said having their dogs on their lap was a distraction while driving. It’s especially distracting for dogs and cats that are too anxious to stay still or simply move around a lot while the car is in motion. Frank Rizzo, superintendent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was quoted saying, “what people come to realize only too late is that animals act like flying missiles in an impact and can not only hurt themselves but hurt their human family members too.”
A couple of states have actually passed legislation requiring animals to be restrained in moving vehicles just like children and other people in the car. Some states only have laws requiring restraints to an animal riding in a motor vehicle, only when they are riding in the exterior of a vehicle, such as a pickup.
As it was said, pets can be distracting for the owner but also for other drivers on the road, especially when the dog is sticking its head out the window. It’s also possible for this to lead to injuries to the dog sustained from the forceful wind. Driving with your pet, even if it’s not on your lap, can also be distracting because oftentimes they will try to move to their owner’s seat to be on their lap. This results in the owner taking at least one hand off the wheel to keep their dog from climbing into the front seat of the car, or they may take a hand off the wheel to pet their dog while driving, which can also be dangerous. The safest way to drive is by using two hands on the wheel. In another survey conducted by the AAA, nearly one in five respondents out of 1,000 surveyed admitted to petting their dogs or taking a hand off the wheel at a certain point to control their pet.
Animals are spontaneous and unpredictable. You never know how they might react to something they see while they’re in the car and may suddenly start barking and moving around, which could startle the driver and possibly lead to an accident. A dog may even reach up to lick your face, which could inhibit your line of vision or make you close at least one eye for even just a second. It may even climb down by your feet perhaps knocking your foot off the pedal or getting in the way of when you have to press on the brakes. You wouldn’t drive with your child on your lap so a dog should not be any different. If you’re driving with your pet in the vehicle, it is safest to have them restrained or as far away from the driver seat as possible, especially if they fidget around a lot. You don’t want your pet to be the cause of an accident that could potentially hurt you and/or your pet.
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