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To Prevent Distracted Driving, Buckle Up The Dog

Distracted driving is the root of many auto accidents in Louisiana and across the United States. Distracted driving has a wide definition as being any activity that takes the driver’s concentration away from the road. When thought about in the context of distracted driving, one time honored activity, driving with the pet dog, is more dangerous than many people acknowledge. As a result driving with an unrestrained pet is starting to appear on the radar of safe driving advocates.

Last year about 89 percent of pets that traveled in cars traveled unrestrained. While that number probably does not bode well for car safety, the number is an improvement from 2009. Two years ago 98 percent of pets who traveled by car were not restrained. Except for Hawaii, there is no state or federal law that speaks to the restrainment or location of a pet while it travels in a car.

Though there are no specific laws on the subject, it does not mean that an unrestrained dog or pet does not present a hazard in the car. A pet like another unsecured object can become a projectile when traveling in the car and therefore an unrestrained pet is a risk to the occupants of the car as well as to itself. If anything the desire to take your pet in the car is growing. According to the American Pet Products Association almost one-fourth of dog owners take their pets with them in the car.

Unrestrained pets also present other dangers in different situations such as at accident scenes. An unrestrained pet after an accident could run out into oncoming traffic or become aggressive towards emergency personnel trying to assist car occupants.

To resolve the issue, many companies offer a variety of pet restraints for cars. For large dogs there are car harnesses and barriers that block the dog from entering the front seat area of the car. For small dogs there are also booster seats that hook around headrests and keep the animal off of the owner’s lap.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Get in the car, fasten your seat belt, that’s a good boy,” Gwendolyn Bounds, 6/29/11

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