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Dogs at Issue in New Distracted Driving Crackdown

A new study by AAA and Kurgo has reported that 52 percent of drivers admit to “petting their canine companions instead of paying attention to the road,” and another 17 percent allow their pets to sit in their laps while driving. This is all according to an article published on Edmunds Inside Line. Kurgo, a pet travel company, polled 1,000 dog owners who had traveled with their pets in the past 12 months.

Car accident attorneys in Georgia know this doesn’t bode well for drivers with furry friends. Looking away from the road for a mere two seconds doubles a driver’s risk of being involved in a car crash. Think about those two seconds. Now, picture how many seconds it takes you to pet your pooch and watch that level of risk increase significantly.

The problem, researchers summarized, could probably be rectified if more owners seriously considered restraining their pooches. Interestingly enough, many of those polled admitted that they knew operating a vehicle with an unharnessed animal was risky business, yet chose to engage in it anyway. 83 percent of drivers agreed that an unrestrained pet is dangerous, but only 16 percent reported restraining their pet.

Here are some of the top reasons why drivers elect to let their pets ride unrestrained:

•42 percent think their dog is calm and therefore doesn’t need a restraint;

•For another 39 percent, it never crossed their minds that their pet might need to be harnessed;

•29 percent think a short trip (like going to the store) isn’t a big deal;

•12 percent want their dog to be able to put his/her head out the window.

Regardless of the reason, untethered animals riding shotgun are simply a bad idea, says AAA. But for those still wary of using restraint devices, AAA encourages dog owners to take the following precautions when they bring the family pet on a car ride:

•Save petting and playtime for before or after the drive. Wait until you’ve arrived at your destination to give your dog any unnecessary attention. If he needs your immediate attention, safely pull off the road before tending to him.

•Determine the best place for your dog to “Sit!” and “Stay!” The front airbag system in your vehicle can be deadly to a small child, and the same is true for dogs, even if they are restrained.

•Consider sitting your dog in the back seat or cargo area of your car where they can avoid crash hazards and you can focus on driving. Also, never allow your pet to ride in the bed of a pick-up truck. He can jump out or be thrown, even if tethered, endangering himself and others on the road.

•Buckle your pup up. Use a pet restraint system to keep your dog safe and secure in case of a collision, and also to keep them from roaming the car and distracting you from driving. Pet restraint products are available at local pet stores.

Following these safety tips should help ensure a smoother trip.