You can now add man’s best friend to the list of distractions while driving. You see it all the time – someone driving down the street with a dog hanging out the window. Sometimes, the driver will even have the dog in their lap! According to USA Today, a recent survey was taken of 1,000 dog owners who’d driven with their pets in the last 12 months. Almost 60 percent admitted their pet had distracted them while they were driving, and only one in six use protective animal restraints, like harnesses, or travel crates.
Jennifer Huebner-Davidson is the manager of traffic safety programs at AAA, and she says those stats are worrying. Not only are dogs a distraction to drivers, an unrestrained dog in a crash can become a projectile. A 10-pound dog in a 50-mile-per-hour crash exerts 500 pounds of force on whatever – or whoever – it hits, and an 80-pound dog in a 30-mile-per-hour crash will exert 2,400 pounds of force! A dog in the lap can be injured or killed by the force of the airbag.
Consider this: In an accident, your dog could run away or prevent rescue personnel from reaching you if you’re injured. Dr. Louise Murray is a veterinarian and the vice president of the ASPCA’s Memorial Animal Hospital in New York. She recommends treating a dog the same way you’d treat a child, and using restraints in the car, whether you’re just taking a ride around the neighborhood or going on a road trip. To find a restraint that’s right for your dog, go to Amazon.com and type “car dog harness” in the search box.