Many pet owners like to take their dogs or cats with them in the car, especially when heading out on summer road trips. While bringing an animal along on a vacation can be great fun, there is also a risk of having your pet in the car with you unless you take proper precautions to ensure you, the animal, and other motorists on the road stay safe.
An experienced car accident lawyer knows many pets can be just as distracting to drivers operating a vehicle as cell phones or electronic devices in the car. Pets need to be securely and properly restrained in a crate, appropriate carrier, or specifically designed seat-belt in order to ensure the animals stay safe and do not present a distraction to the motorist operating the car.
Pets are a Distraction to their Owners
CBS reported on recent surveys given to pet owners about traveling with pets. The surveys revealed 38 percent of people going on summer road trips would have their pets along with them in the vehicle and on their vacation.
Most of the pet owners taking their pets with them on road trips or on other car trips were not aware of how big of a distraction their pets were. In one survey, 29 percent of people admitted to being distracted by their pet and on another survey, just 13 percent of respondents said their pet took their focus from the road. When assessing the behaviors of pet owners with their animals in the car, however, it turns out 64 percent of pet owners with animals in their vehicles are distracted by the pets.
There are lots of things drivers do for their pets that take focus away from the road. For example:
- 42 percent of people with pets in the car pet the animal while driving.
- 12 percent of drivers with pets in the car take pictures of the pet in the vehicle at the same time as they are driving.
- 17 percent of people give their pet food or water at the same time as they are driving a car.
All of these behaviors involve taking the hands off the wheel, the eyes off the road, and the cognitive focus away from driving. Accidents are more likely to happen as a result of the distraction.
When an accident happens, an unrestrained pet can turn into a deadly projectile and cause serious injury to the driver or passengers in the car. When a vehicle is going 30 MPH, an 80-pound dog generates 2,400 pounds of force traveling through the air and a 10-pound dog generates 300 pounds of force traveling through the air. If a dog or a cat turns into a projectile because of the impact of a crash, the consequences could be devastating. Not only could the animal be badly hurt or killed, but so could those in the car with it.
Drivers need to make the smart choice to protect themselves, their animals, and others by ensuring pets in the car are properly restrained at all times.