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Distracted driving: Don't pet and drive

There are times when good people exercise poor judgment. Such is the case when drivers allow dogs to ride in the front seat or in their lap. The image of a pooch sticking its head out of the window while the vehicle is motoring down a busy street may make for a heart-warming picture, but it's a legitimately dangerous thing for the driver, other people and the dog. 

A more serious problem than you might think

The prevalence of pet owners who do not exercise proper safety protocols when transporting their furry friends is concerning. For example, one survey indicated that only 16 percent of dog owners properly restrain their pets when driving, and most dog owners have been distracted by their pets while driving.

Considering the significant effort being made to combat distracted driving due to cell phone and electronic device use, the risk of distraction posed by pets should not be ignored.

Dangerous for pets, too

According to a survey conducted by AAA, unsuspecting dogs can be significantly injured when not safely secured in moving vehicles. A dog sitting in the front seat could be crushed to death by a deploying airbag during a collision. A 10-pound pet can suffer upwards of 300 pounds of force during a 30-mph car crash. An 80-pound dog could feel a 2,400-pound impact at the same rate of speed.

While dog owners may be reveling in affection when traveling, they are putting kind-hearted pets at unnecessary risk. If you have a beloved family dog, consider taking these safety measures to keep your pet from distracting you and being injured:

  • Never allow pets in the front seats
  • Use a secured pet crate when transporting small and mid-sized dogs
  • Add a pet car barrier to prevent dogs from leaping into the front seat
  • Use a pet booster seat with safety belts
  • Use a pet safety harness to secure and restrict the movement of large dogs

Distracted driving puts you, your pooch, other motorists and pedestrians at risk. The best thing you can do for everyone is to maximize safety by securing your dog when traveling. Don't be that distracted driver who pets and drives.

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