Traveling With Pets: How to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents
Driving with pets in the car can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving killed 2,841 in 2018 alone. Among the fatalities were 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 riders on bikes.
What Is The Definition of Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving involves any activity that takes your eyes away from the road. These include texting on your phone, eating and drinking, fiddling with in-car gadgets, and talking to passengers inside the vehicle.
Driving with Pets: By The Numbers
Although your pets can be a great travel companion, they also put you at risk when you’re behind the wheel. In a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety and pet company Kurgo, 80% of respondents said they have driven with their dog on trips to the pet store, the dog park, the office, and local errands. As part of their routine, 56% of pet owners said they drive with their pet at least once a month, and 33% do so at least once a week.
Here’s the alarming part: 65% of dog owners admit to engaging in a distracting activity while driving with their pets. And even more dangerous – only 16 percent install some form of pet restraint in their car! According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), common distracted driving behaviors of pet owners include:
- Petting (52%)
- Holding their pet in place while stepping on the brakes (23%)
- Keeping their pet from climbing from the backseat to the front seat (19%)
- Reaching into the backseat to interact with their pet (18%)
- Carrying their dog or letting them sit on the lap while driving (17%)
- Feeding treats to the dog (13%)
- Playing with the pet (4%)
- Taking pet photos (3%)
When driving with your furry friend, it is crucial to keep your eyes on the road. It will help protect everyone inside the vehicle as well as pedestrians and motorists outside. Looking away for just two seconds could double your risk of crashing.
How To Keep Yourself and Your Dog Safe in The Car
Here are a few tips from veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell on how to make each car ride safer for you and your pet.
- Keep your dog in the back seat.
Airbags are designed to save human lives in the event of a crash, but they can be deadly to dogs. Do not let them ride shotgun even if they keep begging you. Another reason why you should keep your pet in the back seat is to ensure that there are no physical obstructions when you are driving.
- Restrain your pet.
Pets that love to wander around can distract you while you are driving. When they scratch the seats, jump around, or lick you incessantly, they will surely draw your attention away from the road. Restraints can help keep them in place for the duration of the trip. Allowing your pet to roam freely inside the vehicle can also have dangerous consequences. Car crashes can create a deadly amount of force that throws off your pet from the car.
When purchasing a car restraint for pets, make sure it is the right type and size so that they are comfortable and safe. Do not attempt to buckle your dog into a seat belt or car seat designed for humans. Among the 16 percent of pet owners in the AAA/Kurgo survey that install pet restrains, these are the most popular choices:
- Pet harness/safety belt (56%)
- Hard-side pet crate (30%)
- Pet car seat (10%)
- Pet car barrier (8%)
- Soft-side pet crate (7%)
- Install safety barriers.
There are two types of car barriers for pets: one fits between the trunk and the back seat, and the other is placed between the front seats and back seats. Both are designed to prevent your pet from being projected forward when you make a stop or in case of an accident. Nevertheless, the in-car barrier has an added advantage of stopping your dog from suddenly jumping in your lap or onto the front seat.
- Install a seat belt harness according to dog size.
The purpose of an adjustable pet seat belt is to keep your four-legged friends in place while inside your car, so they do not hit the hard interior when there’s a sudden stop. Car harnesses also prevent your dog from jumping out the window. These restraints can only be effective if they match the size of your dog, so be sure to purchase big seat belts for your big dogs and smaller harnesses for your small breeds.
- Install dog booster seat.
Booster seats are another great option for keeping your pet safe while traveling. They provide a comfortable seat for your dog while strapped in. Most booster seats sold on the market are designed to handle up to 40 pounds of load. They are great or small dogs but not a good option for medium to large breeds.
- Secure pet carrier.
If you are putting your dog or cat inside a carrier, make sure you purchase the appropriate size. Your pet won’t be comfortable if the carrier is too small. On the other hand, they are likely to bounce around during the ride if the carrier is too big. It is essential to secure your pet carrier properly, so it doesn’t roll when you come to a full stop or fly around after a collision.
Get Advice from a Personal Injury Attorney for Your Car Accident Injuries
If you have been injured following a car accident, you could seek compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Our personal injury attorneys at The Clark Law Office can help you do that. Contact us today for a free consultation.