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Buckle up for Safety - Dogs, Too

Canine companions are members of the family in more than 46 million American households. Naturally, when people travel, so do their pets. However, though nearly all of us understand that it’s always a good idea for humans to buckle up, not everyone makes a similar effort to secure their pets.

Restraining a dog is about much more than protecting the animal in case of a car accident. Having an unrestrained pet in the car is distracting and can lead to dangerous driving behavior.

Having a pet in the car makes it more likely that the driver might disengage mentally from driving, look away from the road or let go of the steering wheel. It takes just two seconds of distraction from the road to double the risk of an accident.

In a recent AAA survey, half of the respondents said they had pet a dog while driving. Nearly a quarter had thrown up an arm to keep a dog in place when braking. Almost 20 percent admitted to holding a dog while driving. Nearly as many acknowledged taking their hands off the wheel to keep a dog in the back seat.

Obviously, drivers should refrain from engaging distracting interactions with a dog. But, this can be extremely hard when the dog is roaming the vehicle, causing trouble or demanding attention. The best insurance is to restrain the dog, just like a human passenger, with a safety harness. There are a number of models on the market that can safely restrain dogs without causing pain or discomfort.

Putting distraction aside, an unrestrained pet can still pose a hazard if an accident happens. A 10-pound pet thrown around in a collision becomes a dangerous force, exerting 300 pounds of pressure. An 80-pound animal exerts well over a ton of pressure. The potential for injury is significant, especially if there are children in the car.

Motor vehicle accidents are extremely dangerous and can result in injury to motorists and pets. Using restraints will lower the chances of distracted driving and personal injury in a crash.


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