Pets and Distracted Driving

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Approximately 15 people are killed and 1,200 injured every day because of distracted driving according to the Center for Disease Control. Some of these casualties are caused by pets – fluffy cats, shaggy dogs, and other such cute creatures. You don’t even have to drive with your cat or dog in your lap to be at risk. It’s enough to take your pet in your car. It can bark or meow, it can scratch or bite, it can make a sudden movement that takes your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road. The result can be a fatality.

Does That Mean You Shouldn’t Allow Your Pet In Your Car?

Of course not. You probably treat your pets as members of your family, more or less, so you can’t deny them travel rights. It wouldn’t be fair. But what you can do is ensure that they are not a distraction for you while you drive. It isn’t hard. Simply restrain them. In an accident or crash an unrestrained dog or cat can literary fly, whether inside the car or out through the front or back window, becoming a fatal projectile. The pet itself will come to harm. Not to mention that unrestrained pets can make rescue workers’ job a lot harder in serious accidents.

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Carrier or No Carrier

Carriers can indeed restrain a pet, and with smaller animals can work really well. For some anxious pets they offer a sense of security. They keep them confined and from jumping all over you creating distractions and dangerous situations. But this isn’t always the case. If your pet is not used to being in a carrier it can meow or whine continuously, or in an attempt to escape the carrier hurt itself all of which will distract you. So another option is to buy a restraining harness. It’s an inexpensive item available at pet stores as well as online pet stores and it can save lives, not only yours, but also that of your dog, because in a crash, it’s the unrestrained pet that often comes out worst. Also, make sure you keep the dog on the backseat, not only to avoid distractions, but also to protect your pet in case of a crash. Airbags for example, can suffocate dogs.

Cats generally don’t like to be restrained – they feel terribly uncomfortable. The best approach to ensuring that your cat doesn’t lead to distracted driving is to put them in a special cat carrier. Put the carrier on the backseat and strap it with the belt. There are many cats and dogs who just hate riding in a car, and usually it’s best to leave them at home. Unless you have to take them to the vet of course.

Distracted Driving Pet Laws

Although so far only Hawaii specifically bans people from driving with a pet on their lap, many other states have broad distracted driving laws that can be used to penalize drivers who keep an unrestrained pet in their car, including Maine, Arizona, and Connecticut. Since distracting driving laws are receiving more and more attention across the country, expect tighter regulations in the future.

In the end, remember to restrain your pet while driving. It’s safer for everyone, driver as well as pet.

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Comments 8 comments

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

You have brought up some good points that I have never thought about. Mine always sleeps, but I can certainly appreciate this info. It is a subject we don't hear alot about.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Thank you for such a very helpful and informative hub. Very good safety tips for all.


Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank You Rebecca and Phyllis for stopping by my hub! I am hoping it reminds people to take distracted driving seriously. Anyone driving around you or riding with you is in jeopardy of getting hurt including the pet if they are not in a car seat or restrained somehow.

Happy New Year to you both :)


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

Happy New Year to you also.


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

This is a great wake-up call for all the people out there who drive with pets unrestrained. Voted up and pinned on my Dogs and Puppies Pinterest board.


Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Wonderful, thanks so much for helping spread the word Ologsinquito!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

You're right. It's not a good practice to let Fido or Fluffy distract you from your driving. Voted up +++ and pinning.


Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank You FlourishAnyway! :)

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