Not all driving distractions are due to smart phones, changing the station on the radio, or eating while driving. Some are due to a tail in your face, a sudden bark that makes you jump, or a thud that makes you turn around quickly. More and more states are realizing that our pets can get in the way of keeping our eyes on the road.
Just as we wouldn’t let our kids ride in the car without a seat belt, our pets shouldn’t roam freely in the car. There are many dogs who are are great in the car and lay down or look out the window and don’t get in the way but some dogs get very excited and want to bark at passing cars, bikers, and people. Other dogs like to sit on their owner’s laps as they drive, and others trample around the interior jumping from the back to the front of the car. These can cause distractions and could contribute to an accident.
Unrestrained pets could get seriously injured if the car stops suddenly because they can fly around in the car. A few states have passed laws that require animal restraints in moving cars. Some of the laws only pertain to animals riding in the exterior such as the bed of a pickup truck or trailer. However, more and more states are realizing that safe driving also means making sure the interior of the car is safe, that our pets are not distracting us.
In New Jersey, you can be stopped by an officer if you are improperly transporting an animal and receive a ticket. It’s important to make sure your pet is in a seat, not distracting you or other drivers, and not blocking your view. Hawaii does not allow pets to ride on their owners laps while driving, so does Arizona, Connecticut, and Maine. You can be pulled over and ticketed or fined.
Numerous types of restraints are available at your local pet store, some are harnesses that you can use with a seatbelt, others look like pet beds, and others are travel crates. This keeps your pet safe, keeps you from being distracted, and cuts down on the chances of an accident. Statistics say it only takes looking away for 2 seconds for something unexpected to happen while driving.
It’s better to safe, so if you’re planning on some road trips, invest in a safety restraint for your dog. Even if it’s just the usual car rides to the dog park, restraining your dog is important. I saw a dog jump out the window of a car at a red light last summer. Luckily, the pup was fine but it certainly scared everyone who was driving. And the driver had to pull over and get her dog back, but I can’t imagine what it would have been like if her dog did that as she was driving down the avenue. Be cautious, be careful, and do what is best for you and your pets. They’ll thank you for it.