Statistically, driving with your unrestrained pet is potentially as dangerous as driving under the influence.
Most people would not consider getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after consuming too much alcohol, but few think twice before driving with an unrestrained pet in their vehicle.
Statistically speaking, driving with an unrestrained pet can create the same risk of harm as drunk driving.
It is estimated that almost 6,000 people a year are killed in distracted driver cases, and another half million are injured. Connecticut is one of only nine states in the country that prohibits drivers from using hand held phones while operating a motor vehicle.
Currently, Hawaii is the only state that bans drivers from allowing some type of interference with their control over a motor vehicle by an animal, person or other object. Both Virginia and California attempted to pass legislation prohibiting motor vehicle operators from having pets on their lap but neither law was enacted.
According to a recent survey, 90 percent of pet owners travel with their pets. Many of those pets roam freely through the vehicle often hanging out of an open window. Not only can unrestrained pets become a distraction to the driver, they can also fall or jump out of the vehicle or can become a projectile inside of a vehicle which can cause further damage in an accident.
According to the Automobile Association of America, 31 percent of respondents to a recent survey admitted to being distracted by their dog while driving and 21 percent have allowed their dog to sit on their lap while driving.
Restraining your pet when driving cannot only help protect your pet, but you and other passengers in your vehicle as well," said Lloyd Marshall, a senior vice president with AAA Southern New England. "An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert 2,400 pounds of pressure."
Driving with an unrestrained pet can cause three types of problems: Your pet can distract you thereby causing an accident; If you are in an accident your pet can act as a projectile inside your vehicle thereby putting everyone inside at a greater risk of injury; and if you are involved in an accident and are injured an aggressive pet inside of your vehicle will make it more difficult for emergency medical personnel to get to you to start providing emergency medical assistance.
To properly restrain your pet you should consider any one of the following:
* 1) Seat Belt Harness System - A seat belt system is based upon the size of your pet and is attached to your vehicle's seatbelt.
* 2) Safety barriers - These are installed in your vehicle which separate one area of your vehicle from another to keep your pet from interfering with your ability to operate your vehicle and will stop your pet from becoming a projectile in the event of a collision.
* 3) Pet Carriers - A properly sized and secured pet carrier could be the best option for protecting you and your small pet while driving.
The three main types of driver distractions are visual distractions, which involve something that causes you to take your eyes off the road; taking your hands off the steering wheel while driving; and something that takes your mind off of operating the vehicle can be minimized if you properly restrain your pet while driving.
Being a distracted driver affects all age groups but the demographic that is most adversely affected is the young and inexperienced drivers. Drivers under 20 have the highest proportion of fatal accidents. By taking needed precautions prior to operating a motor vehicle you can help to reduce the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.