When hitting the road with your pets, remember safety

Unrestrained pets and distractions pose hazards to drivers, passengers, and the pets themselves, says AAA


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“An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in its path."
Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA National


Seventy-eight million dogs live in more than 46 million U.S. households, according to the American Pet Products Association, and an increasing number of these furry companions accompany their families on road trips and errands.

But this can mean added distractions for the driver and dangers for all passengers, including pets. A recent survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that drivers not only love to bring Fido in the car, but often engage in risky behaviors when he's along for the ride.

Many drivers take their attention away from the road, with the most common activity being petting their dog (52 percent). Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) have used their hands or arms to hold their dog in place while applying brakes. And 19 percent have used their hands or arms to keep their dog from climbing into the front seat, creating a situation where they remove at least one hand from the steering wheel.

Other distracting behaviors drivers admitted to include reaching into the back seat to interact with their dog (18 percent), allowing their dog to sit in their lap or holding their dog (17 percent), and giving food or treats (13 percent). Three percent have even taken a photo of their dog while driving. These behaviors increase the risk of a crash. Looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found.

Most don't use pet restraintsEighty-three percent of respondents acknowledge that an unrestrained dog in a moving car can be dangerous, but only 16 percent currently use a pet restraint. Unrestrained dogs are injured or cause injury to other passengers in a crash.

“Drivers should use a pet restraint system for your dog every time their pet is in the vehicle,” said Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA National, Traffic Safety Programs manager. “A restraint will not only limit distractions, but also protect you, your pet and other passengers in the event of a crash or sudden stop.”

Eighteen percent of respondents who drive with a dog in the vehicle also have children under the age of 13 who ride with them. Seven in 10 of these motorists have driven with a child and an unrestrained dog in the vehicle at the same time.

More than two in five (42 percent) respondents said they do not use a pet restraint because their dog is calm. However, a calm dog will be thrown with the same amount of force as an active dog in the event of a crash or sudden stop.

“An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure,” said Huebner-Davidson. "Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in its path."

The online study was conducted among a sample of 1,000 dog owners who have driven with their dog in past 12 months.

Source: American Automobile Association (AAA): newsroom.aaa.com





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