Pets Can Be a Dangerous Driving Distraction on Georgia Roads


May 12, 2011

Driving while texting or using cell phones has been the primary focus of discussions involving distracted driving, but there is another distracted driving hazard that is garnering an increasing amount of attention and debate.

The distraction created by pets riding in the passenger compartment of cars, trucks and SUVs is an increasingly common cause of serious motor vehicle accidents. Many people love their pets and treat them like they're part of the family. Some owners refuse to put their pet in a "cage" in the back preferring to allow them to ride up front in their lap.

This insistence on leaving pets unrestrained can come at a very high cost including serious car accidents that cause permanent injuries or wrongful death.

A study done by AAA surveyed people about their driving habits with pets in the car. It turns out that 80 percent of drivers take their pets with them in the car when taking day trips, doing errands, and taking longer trips. Only 17 percent of these people indicated that they used any form of pet restraint system. This increases the danger to your pet if you should get in a crash and also to any passengers that are in the car with you. If a 10 pound dog were loose in the car during a car crash at highway speeds, the dog would be launched through the car. If the dog slams into someone in a collision at highway speeds, it would exert hundreds of pressure of force at the point of impact. This could easily kill a dog of this size or seriously injure it along with the human who is hit.

There are a lot of different options for keeping you and your dog safe while riding in a car. A driver should always keep a dog in an enclosed area or restrained to the seat in some way. An appropriate pet restraint system will help protect the pet in a crash and prevent it from distracting you while you are driving. A loose dog can try and jump in your lap, bark in your ear, get down on the floorboards around your feet, and start misbehaving so you are forced to pay attention to it. These things could all lead to you taking your eyes and attention from the road. A dog that manages to wedge its way into a driver’s lap or under a driver’s feet may interfere with your ability to steer or brake.

We have provided some ways to keep your pet safely controlled while you are driving:

  • Use safety barriers in your car: There are safety barriers that fit in between the back of a vehicle, the trunk or storage space and the back seat. You can get them sized to your vehicle. The other types of barriers are a net type of barrier that can fit between the front and back seat of the car. These are also fitted to each car.
  • Seat belt restraints: These are harnesses that are worn on your dog's body and clip into the seat belt so that your dog will stay in the seat. If you have to stop suddenly, these are great for preventing your pet from hitting the interior of the vehicle or a vehicle occupant. These can be sized to fit your dog. They have both large and small sizes.
  • Doggie booster seats: These seats are best for smaller breeds of dogs. They are a good way to protect smaller breeds that can really get thrown in the event of a crash. They sit on the seat and are strapped through the seat belt system much the same way a child's booster seat is strapped in. The dog then sits in the comfortable seat and is strapped in a harness that is attached to the seat. This way the seat and the dog stay in place in case of sudden stops.
  • Crates or kennels: The use of crates in the car works well if you have sufficient room for them. If they are in the back of an SUV you can strap it down using the tie-offs that are often located on the floor. If it is a smaller crate in the back seat, you can use the seat belt system to strap it in. These work great for cats that are traveling with you. It is important to make sure that the crate is the proper size for your pet or your pet will get thrown around in it.

In addition to keeping your pet safe, all of the options will ultimately keep you and the passengers in your car safe. Animals that are allowed to run loose in a car can be a major source of distraction to a driver, and distracted drivers account for more than 6,000 car accident fatalities per year.

If you or someone you love is the victim of a distracted driver, the experienced Georgia auto accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, can help you as we have thousands of families throughout Georgia. Our Georgia distracted driving accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333) or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.