Dogs join the world of distracted driving

Distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents in Michigan and across the United States. Distracted driving is defined as any activity that takes a driver’s mind off of the road. The bad driving practice comes in many forms including texting, talking on the phone and changing the radio. One activity many pet-lovers in Florida are fond of is allowing their dog to hang out of the window as they cruise down the road. Though the activity probably makes the dog and driver happy, it is the latest distracted driving activity to appear on the radar of safety advocates and law enforcement.

Some law enforcement agencies and safety advocate groups around the country are pushing for seat-belt harnesses for pets as a part of their distracted driving campaigns. Unrestrained pets in vehicles are not only a hazard to the animals but are also a hazard to any occupants in the car. An unrestrained pet in the car can easily turn into a projectile. For example, a 60 pound object traveling at 30 miles per hour has 2,700 pounds of force. That means a large dog can turn into a small elephant during a car accident.

The vast majority of pet owners who travel with their pets do not properly secure their animals, but the reason may be because it is a fairly new issue. According to the advocacy group Bark Buckle Up around 89 percent of pets that traveled in cars last year were not properly secured. Two years earlier practically all pets, 98 percent, were not properly secured in traveling vehicles. As the number of pet owners who travel with pets increases, the potential problem will likely increase as well.

In response, dog-travel products are increasing too. Various companies sell harnesses and gates to keep larger dogs out of the front-seat area. For small dogs, dog-travel companies sell booster seats. The point of the products is to keep the dogs out of the driver’s lap and keep the driver’s eyes on the road.