It is common for motorists to bring their pets along for road trips and even daily errands, but just like child passengers, unrestrained pets are a distraction to the driver and are at risk of injury in the event of even a small collision.
According to a study done by AAA and Kurgo Pet products, 65% of drivers say they participate in distracting behavior behind the wheel while driving with their dog. Additionally:
- More than half (52%) pet their dog while driving.
- 17% allow their dog to sit in their lap.
- 13% admit to giving food or treats to their dog while driving.
Of the 84% of respondents that say they regularly travel with their pets on a variety of car trips, only 16% say they use any form of pet restraint system.
AAA recommends that pet owners restrain their pet inside the vehicle (NEVER in the bed of a truck) to avoid distraction and to protect the animal from injury in a crash. When choosing a pet restraint system, consider the following:
- Restraint systems that limit a pet’s ability to distract the driver, restrict movement and mitigate crash forces are best to use.
- A car’s airbag can prove deadly to a pet so it is best to restrain your pet in the back seat. If space is limited and you have to put your pet in the front seat, be sure to disable the passenger-side airbag and to use a restraint that prevents them from leaning too far forward.
- Padded harnesses with sturdy connectors and straps are available to connect to a vehicle’s seatbelt system. Both hard and soft-sided crates can be used in vehicles, but should always be strapped down. Pet car seats or basket-style holders can be used with smaller dogs and cats.
- A wide variety of barrier systems are available to fit various makes and models of vehicles. These can be helpful in reducing doggie distractions, but do not offer protection during a crash.
It is common practice for motorists to drive with their dogs in the bed of pick-up trucks. The force of being thrown from the bed is often times deadly to the animal. If your dog survives the crash and is unleashed, it will often be spooked from the event and will run off. Tethering or leashing a dog while in a truck bed can be just as dangerous, and in many cases this has resulted in dogs being dragged along the road. Collisions aside, there are other hazards that can occur, such as being hit by debris or being exposed to dangerous weather.