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Why Driving With an Unrestrained Dog in the Car Is Dangerous

Whether they’re going on long road trips or quick drives to the pet store, local dog park, or simply tagging along on errands, dogs just love car rides. But before inviting Fido to hop in next to you, you need to hear these important facts about how having an unrestrained dog in the car can be dangerous to both you and your furry family member, and what you can do to protect them in transit.

Dogs Are Distracting

When dogs are not restrained in a carrying crate, behind a safety gate blocking them from the front seats, or by a leash attached to the seatbelt, they can distract drivers in a number of dangerous ways.

In one study conducted by Volvo, drivers were distracted more than twice as often and made more than twice as many driving mistakes when their dogs were unrestrained than when they were in a carrier.

According to a CarRentals.com survey, pet owners described a number of distracting behaviors on car rides where their dogs were free to roam the cabins of their vehicles, including:

  • Pawing at the driver for attention or attempting to climb into the front seat
  • Sitting on the driver’s lap, blocking the view of the road or access to the steering wheel
  • Standing on the center console and/or stepping on the gear shift
  • Blocking the view out of the passenger side window
  • Throwing up

According to data collected by AAA, more than half of dog owners admit to taking their hands off the wheel to pet or calm their dogs when driving with them, and one in five dog owners have had to take their hands off the wheel to prevent their dogs from climbing into the front seat.

Dogs Can Injure Themselves and Others in Accidents

Even if your dog is calm and a perfect angel in the car, that doesn’t mean you won’t be involved in an accident. Our firm deals with cases every day involving victims who were seriously injured in car accidents because other drivers weren’t paying attention. And unfortunately, having a dog in the car can make a car accident worse.

When people aren’t restrained by seatbelts, they can go flying in a crash, and the same is true for your dog. A 10-pound dog will exert around 500 pounds of force in a 30-MPH crash, which is more than enough to seriously injure your dog or anyone your dog crashes against. Meanwhile, an 80-pound dog will exert 2,400 pounds of force!

That’s not all; if your dog is sitting in the front seat, they could also be killed or seriously injured by the airbags, which are designed for full-grown adults (the same reason why you should never let a child sit in the front seat before they are old enough).

Dogs have also been known to escape vehicles after crashes, putting them at risk of getting hit by other cars or causing accidents when those drivers swerve to avoid the animals. In some cases, they can even become aggressive with rescuers, preventing them from providing help.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Car

As much as your dog might like to stick his head out the window, the best thing you can do for him is to keep him safely restrained in a carrier or put up a barrier purchasable from any pet store that prevents access between the front and rear seats or cargo area and rear seats.

Furthermore, carriers should be placed on the floor of the vehicle rather than on the seat to prevent them from sliding off in a sudden stop.

If your dog isn’t used to a crate, introduce them to the crate at home by leaving the door open for them to freely access and placing toys inside before moving it to the car. You should also take your dog on several short trips in the crate, even just around the block, before planning a long trip in a crate for the first time, to help them grow used to it.

After an Accident, Phone Jason Stone

After a car accident, you will have a lot of expenses to take care of, including repair bills for your vehicle and medical bills for any injury. When your car accident was caused by another driver’s negligence, you shouldn’t have to pay those bills out of pocket.

At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we help car accident victims get the full compensation they need to put their life back together, not just the bare minimum the insurance company tries to initially offer. Don’t settle for less than you need – contact our experienced Boston car accident attorneys for a free case review.

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