When we think about distracted driving, it is easy to blame some of the typical culprits: texting, talking on the phone, eating, or reaching for items while driving. But have you considered that driving with an unsecured pet can be just as dangerous?
Driving with unsecured pets is a very real safety issue. Not only is it distracting to you, the driver, but it also poses a safety risk to your pets. In a survey conducted by AAA, eighty-four percent of people admitted that they do not secure their pets in their vehicles. This includes driving with an animal in your lap, allowing them to sit in the passenger seat with their heads out the window, or allowing them to sit or stand in the back of the vehicle. Sixty-four percent of these drivers admit that they engage in unsafe driving habits related to having their pet in the car with them, and another 3 percent even admit to photographing their animals while driving.
Pets can cause a number of distractions. Being in a car may make them frightened or excited, causing them to run around, bark, or even seek comfort by getting close to you. Consider what this might do if your pet accidentally nudges the gear shifter while you are driving at high speeds! When your job is to be focusing on the road, comforting and controlling an excited pet should be the last thing you need to worry about.
There are legal pitfalls to worry about as well. Distracted driving laws vary from state to state, but if you are involved in an accident because you were distracted by your pet, you could be held responsible for damages.
Just as we wear seatbelts to protect ourselves, it is important for pets to be properly secured to avoid injury during a sudden stop or an accident. The deployment of airbags can injure or kill a pet sitting in your lap or in the passenger seat. Any sharp or unexpected motion of the vehicle can cause pets to lose their footing and possibly fall and hurt themselves. Open windows, too, are especially dangerous for pets who may fall from the vehicle, or who may hurt their eyes and ears with flying rocks or debris.
You can ensure that your pet is safely secured by using restraints like pet seatbelts, pet car seats, vehicle pet barriers, or travel crates. Also, because of the danger posed to animals by air bags, it is important that your pets never ride shotgun – they will be much safer in the back seat. You will not only have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your pet is safe, but will also be driving with one less distraction.
Have you been involved in a distracted driving accident? Contact Cannon & Dunphy S.C. to speak with a Wisconsin car accident attorney today: (855) 570-2676 .