The Dangers of Driving with Pets

  • March 7, 2017
  • Steinger Greene & Feiner
  • Auto Accident

Summer is just around the corner. The days will be getting longer, and the weather will be more predictable. When that happens, people will be heading outside. For many, this means heading out with their dogs in tow. Some people are lucky enough to live close to a dog park or hiking trail. Some even live within walking distance of a dog-friendly beach.

What if you don’t live near a park that will welcome your dog? What if you decide to go to the pet store and let your furry friend pick their own treat? If that happens, you will need to put your dog in the car and head on down the road. If you don’t do that with safety in mind, and many people don’t, you could be heading for disaster.

According to AAA and pet product manufacturer Kurgo, more than half of people who answered a survey said that they travel with their dog in the car one or more times in a month. Of those people, just over half admitted to taking their focus off the road to either calm or correct their dog. Even more dangerous: Just under 20 percent said they let their dog ride in their lap. So what is the best way to ride with a dog in your car?

1. Carrier

The safest way to transport a dog, hands-down, is in a crate. Even better is a crate that is buckled into the backseat. If you have an SUV, a wire or airline-type crate will fit nicely in the back. If you have a hatchback, consider putting the backseat down and using a crate. If you have a typical passenger car, a crate or carrier may be unrealistic. That moves us on to option number two.

2. Seat Belt

If you can’t fit a carrier in your vehicle or it simply doesn’t make sense for you, there are products in the market that allow you to secure your dog with a harness and seat belt. You can buy a harness and clip combination, or you can use the harness your dog already has and simply purchase the clip. The seat belt slips through the clip, the seat belt is buckled and the clip is secured to the harness. This can take some getting used to for dogs who tend to wander in the back seat. A few short practice trips should be undertaken before a long road trip.

3. Barrier

If a carrier doesn’t work and your dog just cannot get used to a seat belt, a barrier is the last safety option. It is not ideal, but it is better than having your dog jump back and forth between seats. These barriers are typically made of either steel tubing or canvas. A barrier is placed between the front seats and the back of the vehicle. It prevents dogs who like to jump from the back to the front from being able to do so. It also keeps dogs in the backseat if you are in an accident.

People have been riding with dogs in vehicles for as long as dogs and vehicles have been around. So why the push for safety now? Because as knowledge is gained and products are made, safety is more possible.

AAA says that a 10-pound dog who is not restrained will exert nearly 300 pounds of force if they fly through the car in a collision that takes place at 30 mph. A larger dog can exert more than 2,000 of force. Imagine this force hitting a passenger. Imagine that force hitting your windshield. With all of the products available on the market, it simply makes good safety sense to ride with your pet appropriately.

Those of you who travel with cats or other small animals aren’t off the hook. While people primarily travel with dogs, they also travel with cats, ferrets and even lizards. No matter what type of animal is in your vehicle, they can be both a distraction and a potential hazard if you are involved in an accident. While it is cute to see someone riding down the road with their pet climbing around the car, it is definitely not safe.

If you plan on riding around town with your pet in tow, secure them in your vehicle. It will be safer for both of you. Whether you have a dog, a cat, a guinea pig or a snake, riding in the car with a loose pet is dangerous.

If you are involved in a car accident in West Palm Beach or the surrounding area, reach out to our team of expert attorneys. We will meet with you at no cost and review the details of your case. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, property damage and more. Call today to schedule your consultation.

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