Pet-Induced Distracted Driving
June 2nd, 2015
RI & MA Pet Caused Accident Attorney
How many of us have considered the consequences of an unrestrained pet riding in the car? Every 18 minutes, a car crash occurs as the result of a loose pet in the vehicle, says Paws to Click.
Many of us enjoy the companionship of our pets in our cars. But new research shows that responsible pet travel is as important a topic as any other distracted driving issue.
Pets and Distracted Driving
Pets are a significant cause of distracted driving. 65% of respondents to a AAA/Kurgo Pet Passenger Safety Survey admitted to at least one of the following distracted behaviors while driving:
- Petting a dog
- Holding the dog
- Giving food or treats to the dog
- Using hands or arms to keep the dog in place while braking
- Using hands or arms to keep the dog from climbing from the back into the front seat
- Reaching into the backseat to interact with the dog
- Playing with the dog
- Taking a photo of the dog
While some of these may seem like harmless behaviors, looking away from the road for even 2 seconds doubles your crash risk. And the damage that the dog can cause is significant: an unrestrained 10 lb. dog in a crash at 30 mph will exert approximately 300 pounds of force; an unrestrained 80 lb. dog in a crash at 30 mph will exert approximately 2400 pounds of force.
Loose pets are a danger to themselves and everyone in the vehicle. They can climb down into the drivers’ footwell around the accelerator and brake pedals. They can be injured or killed by an airbag. They can slam into – or through – a windshield. They can land on and injure people in the car who are restrained by seatbelts (think: children restrained in their own carseats).
Safe Travel With Pets in Cars
Until recently pet restraints were largely unavailable and unused. Most of us have seen a dog with his head out of the window or roaming around the back wagon of a car. Or perhaps we’ve seen an unrestrained dog sitting in the front passenger seat or with the driver in his or her seat. According to the AAA/Kurgo Pet Passenger Safety only 16% of survey respondents use any form of pet restraint while riding with their pets.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that you first ask yourself whether the pet must travel with you. If not, leave your pet at home.
If you must travel with your pet, using a restraint system is essential. The AVMA recommends a properly secured and ventilated, size-appropriate kennel in open cargo areas of motor vehicles. Other organizations recommend pet harnesses and tether systems.
If we are going to restrain ourselves and our loved ones in the car, doesn’t it make sense to restrain our loved pets?