Dogs in Vehicles Contribute to Distracted Driving
As we approach the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to think about driving with dogs because they can distract drivers just as much as children and cell phones.
Nearly one third of 1,000 people who have driven with their dog revealed in an online survey that the dog distracted them while driving. And 59% of those surveyed said they have also participated in distracting behavior while driving with their dog.
The survey, conducted by AAA (a not-for-profit motoring and leisure travel association founded in 1902) and Kurgo (a company that makes pet products), revealed that 55% of those people have petted their dog while driving, and 21% have let their dog sit on their lap. Some of those surveyed have also given food and water to their dog, and played with the dog while driving.
Additionally, only 17% of those surveyed said they use any kind of dog restraint. Without something securing the dog, it’s apt to run back and forth from window to window, might chew on the upholstery, and get sick in the car, taking the driver’s attention off the road.
This is alarming, because, according to the American Pet Products Association, 45.6 million U.S. households have a dog, and because, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a driver’s risk of being in a car accident doubles when he or she looks away from the road for only two seconds.
As ABC affiliate WZZM13.com’s Denise Pritchard writes in “Distracted Doggie Driving“:
According to Paws to Click www.pawstoclick.com every year 30,000 accidents are caused by dogs in the front seat. Every 18 minutes an accident occurs due to a loose pet in a vehicle.
And according to the news release, “One in Five respondents to AAA/Kurgo survey admit to driving with dog in their lap,” in AAA NewsRoom:
‘Restraining your pet when driving can not only help protect your pet, but you and other passengers in your vehicle as well,’ cautioned Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA National Traffic Safety Programs manager. ‘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.’
There is plenty of help for dog owners seeking to shore up their vehicles to protect their dogs, themselves and others on the road, as Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times Health/Well notes in “Pets and Distracted Driving“:
The Humane Society of the United States notes that dogs don’t have to be locked up in a carrier while in the car to keep them safe. If a dog enjoys the ride, The Humane Society suggests a restraining harness that can be purchased from a pet store. The Web site for Bark Buckle UP lists several products for traveling with your dog, including a mobile pet bed or a dog seat belt. The Humane Society also advises keeping a dog in the back seat because front-seat air bags pose a hazard to even large dogs.