In Texas, it’s not uncommon to see pets roaming freely inside people’s cars. Sometimes, dogs are on people’s laps while they drive or they’re happily bouncing around inside the vehicle as their owner drives. But is this safe for the dog? Is it safe for other roadway users? Do pets increase the risk of a distracted driving crash?
Dogs are extremely popular pets. After all, they provide love, protection, and companionship to millions of Americans. As such, it’s very common for pet owners to bring their dogs along with them when they take road trips. Some people never leave their house without their dogs and they take them everywhere they go. However, when people have a dog in the vehicle, it’s a distraction, especially when the dog is unrestrained.
Dogs in Cars Lead to Distracted Drivers
AAA and Kurgo Pet Products sponsored a survey that researched dogs and distracted driving. The survey found that 29 percent of respondents admitted to being distracted by their dog when behind the wheel. Going further, 65 percent of respondents said they had participated in at least one distracted driving behavior when they were driving with their dog in the vehicle.
- Not surprisingly, 52 percent said they had pet their dog while they were driving.
- 17 percent of respondents said they let their dog sit on their lap while driving.
- 13 percent of respondents said they had given their dogs food or treats.
- 4 percent admitted to playing with their dog while driving.
All of the above behaviors are a form of distracted driving and increase the risk of a distracted driving crash. According to AAA, 84 percent of respondents admitted driving with their pets on different types of car trips, however, only 16 percent had used any form of a restraint system as they drove with their dogs.
What are the advantages of using a restraint system? Using a restraint system has two key benefits: 1) it reduces distracted driving, and 2) it protects your pet in the event of a crash.
“AAA recommends that pet owners restrain their pet inside the vehicle not only to avoid distraction but to protect the animal and other passengers in a crash. So, each and every time you travel with your dog, just as you put on your seat belt when you hit the road, be sure you do the same for your canine companion,” says AAA’s website.