Breaking News: Seat Belt Safety Laws for Dogs
Summer is your dog's favorite time for road trips! But is it safe to take your dog in the car without a safety restraint? Studies say no.
We would never put our children in the car without a seatbelt. Why should our dogs be any different?
I've seen trauma cases where dogs sustained serious injuries in a crash. The most tragic case was a little Jack Russell Terrier named Maxi. After the crash she jumped out of the car window and was hit by on-coming traffic. Maxi died and her parents blamed themselves. They never thought a safety restraint was necessary – until it was too late.
Safety restraints can save your dog's life in a crash… but 84% of pet owners don't use them.
Today I'm going to give you the facts so you will take the necessary steps to protect your dog.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a car crash. And a recent AAA study shows pets are definitely a distraction. This study of dog owners found:
- 65% were distracted at least once while driving with a dog
- 31% became distracted by a dog climbing into their lap
- 23% used their arms to restrain dogs while applying the brake
- 20% let their dog sit on their lap while driving
- 19% took one hand off the wheel to prevent pets from climbing into the front seat
One of the main reasons people don't think about using pet safety restraints is that they don't understand the dangers. Here's why you should never give your dog free reign of the car.
- Airbags are designed to protect people, not pets. Never allow your dog to ride in the front seat. A dog sitting on the driver's lap could be stuck between the driver and the airbag if it deploys. And front airbags can be deadly to a dog – even if the dog is restrained.
- Unrestrained pets become forceful projectiles. If you crash at 30mph your unrestrained 10-lb dog becomes a flying projectile exerting 300 pounds of force. At 50mph, your dog will fly forward with 833 pounds of force. And at only 30mph an 80-lb dog can hit passengers or the windshield with over a ton of force!
- Threats to emergency responders. After a crash, frightened, injured or protective dogs may bite anyone that comes near.
- Running from the car. Frightened by the crash, your dog may instinctively run from the car to be hit by oncoming traffic or cause another accident.
This is a serious safety issue. In fact, soon pet safety restraints may not be a "choice" – they may be the law.
Many states already have pet vehicle safety laws and others are following suit. States like Arizona, Florida, California, Connecticut, Maine and New Jersey issue fines of $250-$1,000 for driving with a pet on your lap. In Hawaii, driving with unrestrained pets is forbidden. If your state has no pet vehicle safety law, it could be coming soon. But don't wait for legislation to start using a pet safety restraint. Now that you understand the dangers, act now. The risks are simply too great.
It's our job to keep our pets safe – and that includes vehicle safety. Please consider getting a seat belt safety harness for your dog. And remember, airbags can kill a dog. Never restrain your pet in the front seat. Use your pet safety restraint in the back seat only.