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Transporting Unrestrained Pets Poses a Serious Driving Distraction

July 15, 2013

Distracted driving has become one of the most significant causes of car accidents.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nine people die and more than a 1,000 more are injured in the U.S. on a daily basis in collisions caused by distracted drivers.  While electronic devices like mobile phones, tablet computers, MP3 players and similar gadgets have received a great deal of attention, there has not been nearly as much focus on another extremely common form of driving distraction: pets.

Some states and traffic safety experts have recently begun to consider the potential danger posed by dogs and other pets that are transported in a vehicle while not properly restrained.  Most drivers rarely travel anywhere without passing another vehicle with a dog accompanying their owner in the car.  A survey of dog owners conducted by AAA found that one in five drivers admit to allowing their dog to ride unrestrained within their vehicle.  Because of the frequency of this dangerous driving practice, a few states have enacted laws that require a pet to be secured in a vehicle, and other states are considering similar distracted driving laws.

Although many people love their pets enough that they would prefer not to leave them behind, pets that are not in an enclosed animal carrier pose a danger to vehicle occupants, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and the pet.  The animal may act in an unpredictable way so that the driver’s attention is drawn away from potential road hazards.  If the pet tries to climb into the lap of a driver, this can be a very dangerous situation.  If a car accident does occur, a pet may become a projectile that slams into a vehicle occupant.

Although a number of companies market what amount to “dog car seats,” a new report indicates that these safety restraints may offer virtually no protection for your pet.  A non-profit organization called Center for Pet Safety (CPS) conducted crash tests on a number of dog harnesses that are intended as dog car safety restraint.  Every harness tested according to standards applied to child safety restraints failed.  The 100 percent failure rate resulted in crash-test dog dummies being decapitated or turning into projectiles.

The bottom line is that pets pose a driving distraction that can cause accidents that result in injury to vehicle occupants and the pet, as well as others who share the road.  While CPS indicates that some vets still support use of these harnesses because they are “better than nothing,” the organization indicates that the safety restraints may accomplish nothing more than creating a false sense of security for pet owners. 

While many of our personal injury lawyers and staff at Montlick and Associates are pet owners, we encourage drivers to consider leaving their dog at home whenever possible, for their own safety and that of their pet.  If it is necessary to transport a pet, such as for a trip to the vet, CPS recommends using a proper animal travel carrier secured with a seatbelt fed through the carrier.

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a collision caused by a driver’s lack of attention or any other cause, our Atlanta accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are committed to seeking fair compensation for victims.  Our Atlanta personal injury lawyers are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.  No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.