Safety experts have recently identified another source of distraction for many drivers: their dogs. If you are one of the many pet owners who take your dog riding with you, there are some facts you need to know. Unless you are one of the few owners who already use a restraint system for your dog in your car, this article is for you and your dog.
Pet Concern 1: Distraction
In unrestrained animal in the car can be unpredictable and cause the driver to take their eyes off of the road for a few seconds. Or you may just want to pet or play with them while driving. This distraction can be all that is necessary to cause an accident. Your pet will not realize that activity which is perfectly acceptable when outside the car is distracting to the driver and therefore potentially dangerous while in a moving vehicle.
Pet Concern 2: Unrestrained Large Dogs
An unrestrained large dog is at serious risk of injury to itself AND to other occupants in the event of a crash. An 80-pound dog that is unrestrained during a crash at 30 mph exerts 2400 pounds of force in a vehicle, according to the Chicago Tribune. You don’t want anything heavy to be loose when the car is rapidly slowing down, due to emergency braking or collision.
Pet Concern 2: Air Bags
If a dog is on your lap or riding unrestrained in a front seat with an air bag, the force of the air bag can seriously injure or kill a small dog and send a large dog flying (see above!). Air bag forces and volumes were designed for adult humans and can be very dangerous for dogs unless properly restrained.
Pet Concern 3: Overly Protective Pet
In the event of a crash, emergency responders may be forced to deal with a territorial and protective dog trying to defend its owner. In some cases, authorities have had to shoot the animal in order to help the other occupants. You don’t want this to happen to your dog!
Pet Concern 4: Protect Yourself and Your Pet
Only 17 percent of dog owners currently use restraint systems when they take their dog on a car trip, while 55 percent pet their dogs while driving and 21 percent hold them in their laps. 6,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2008 and 500,000 more were injured, according to the NHTSA. This is a serious issue and cell phones aren’t the only culprit. If you are a dog owner, you owe it to yourself and your pet to take proper precautions when driving with your dog. One source of dog products for travel is Kurgo at www.kurgo.com. NOTE: This is not an endorsement of these products, merely a starting point for your search.