Many people do not think twice about driving with their pet, even in the front seat with them or even in their lap. In fact, a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that more than six out of ten dog owners drove while distracted by their canine passenger. It is sometimes necessary to take your furry friend on a ride with you, but distractions from unrestrained animals can lead to auto accidents.
Why are unrestrained pets so dangerous?
Unrestrained pets are a major distraction to drivers; and as we all know, distractions lead to serious car crashes. Restless, curious, or excited dogs and cats may climb over seats; chew, claw, or dig into upholstery; cry out; or even try to force you to give them attention by moving your arms or legs.
As any pet owner knows, the number of ways a dog or cat can cause trouble is innumerable. This is doubly so when you are on the road.
According to the aforementioned survey from AAA, about 30 percent of pet owners admit their pets keep them from focusing on the road. When asked about specific distractions, however, 65 percent said they engage in one or more of these behaviors behind the wheel. This includes:
- 52 percent admit to petting a dog or cat while driving
- 17 percent allow their animal to sit in their lap
- 13 percent give their pet treats or other food while behind the wheel
- 4 percent play with their dog while driving
All of these behaviors are a distraction triple-threat. This means that it they are visual (i.e., takes eyes off the road), cognitive (i.e., takes mind off driving), and manual (i.e., takes hands off the wheel) distractions.
Unrestrained animals can also become a dangerous projectile if an accident were to occur.
How can I keep my pet safe and reduce the risk of distraction?
The AAA study we mentioned also reported that only about 17 percent of owners restrain their animals in the car. Before you travel with an animal in the car, make sure you always restrain your pets. Your local pet store or online shops have a number of options for restraining your pet. Finding the one that works best for your dog and your vehicle may take a little research.
When considering the best way to keep your pets safe in the car, remember the following:
- Restrain small dogs in a hard or soft-sided crate. Always make sure to strap the crate down. An unsecured crate can injure your pet or yourself if it moves around.
- Consider a basket-style pet car seat for your small dog.
- For medium or large dogs, use a restraint system that includes a padded harness and sturdy connectors. Always use the correct size; a harness is pointless if your dog can climb out of it. Read more about the best and safest restraint systems on ConsumerReports.org.
- Choose a restraint that works with the vehicle’s seatbelt or latch system.
- Always put pets in the back seat. Airbags can be deadly no matter the restraint system or size of the dog.
- Consider placing your pet’s favorite toy in the crate to keep it content.
While many dogs are perfectly pleased with these options, cats are more difficult to please. Harness restraints rarely work well with cats. Instead, a pet carrier strapped into the vehicle with a seat belt or other restraint is typically the best option. You may also consider having a passenger sit with the crate to soothe your pet.
How can Cordisco & Saile, LLC help after a distracted driving crash?
Not all drivers will be as careful as you are with your pets. If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a Pennsylvania or New Jersey unrestrained animal auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The distracted driving accident lawyers at Cordisco & Saile, LLC can help you recover the money you deserve to cover your losses, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Call us today at 215-642-2335 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.