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Survey: Drivers Distracted by Unrestrained Pets

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A recent survey found a large percentage of drivers were distracted when there was an unrestrained animal in the car.

Gunner kennel, courtesy Gunner Kennels

A recent article by Jim Gorzelany said that having an urestrained pet in the car can significantly distract drivers. In the article, written for CTW features and appearing in the Sun Sentinel, Gorzelany reported that a recent survey found that 56% of respondents said they had brought their dog with them in the car during the past month, and 52% said that as a result they had been distracted while driving. The survey was conducted by AAA in Orlando, Florida, and Kurgo, a Vermont company that makes products to keep dogs safe in vehicles.

Dangers of Driving With Pets

In addition, among those pet owners surveyed, only 16% said they use a pet restraint in their car on a regular basis. Many pet owners said they do not use a pet restraint because their pet is calm and does not require one.

Gorzelany cautioned:

However, even if a pet is sleeping peacefully in the back seat, he or she can become a dangerous projectile in an emergency stopping situation. According to the AAA, 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 2,4000 pounds of pressure.

Pet Restraint Effectiveness

Subaru of America and the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) conducted a study to learn how effective pet restraints are. The study was needed because, “unfortunately there currently are no crash-test performance standards for animal restraints as there are for child seats in the U.S., which means dog owners are more or less at the mercy of manufacturers’ claims for pet protection.”

Subaru and CPS’s 2015 Crate and Carrier Crashworthiness Studies rated three vehicle pet restraint models as the most effective. The top-performing crate for 2015 was the Gunner Kennels GI Intermediate with 8′ Tie Down Straps. The two top-performing pet carriers were the PetEgo Forma Frame Jet Set Carrier with ISOFIX-Latch Connection and the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock, CPS wrote in a press release.

In order to determine most effective pet restraint products, CPS conducted studies it designed to test crate connections, and to also test crate and carrier structural integrity via rigorous crash testing. If a car accident should occur, it is crucial for the crates and carriers to prevent the animal from becoming a projectile. It is equally important for the products’ connection points to remain fully secured.  “If a pet is unrestrained, or the structural integrity should fail, the dog can potentially strike and injure a human passenger,” CPS wrote.

Pet Crate and Carrier Performance Standards

Michael McHale, Subaru’s director of corporate communications, said in the press release that Subaru advises pet owners to select a crate that is generally about 6 inches longer than the dog’s body length. Subaru’s crossover vehicles accept most crate and carrier sizes, McHale said, noting that all of its crossover vehicles have won awards for their safety. The results of the study will help CPS formulate much-needed crate and carrier testing and performance standards.


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