A recent survey by the AAA (American Automobile Association) examined the driving habits of dog owners and found a worrying trend of drivers letting unrestrained dogs distract them from the road.
It stands to reason that dog owners will be hitting the road with their pet in tow from time to time, as evidenced by 56 per cent of respondents who admitted to driving with their dog at least once in the past year.
But the cause for concern lies in how easily distracted we can become by having our pet pooch by our side when we’re at the wheel.
Most Common Distractions For Drivers
Of those who had driven with their dog in the car over the last month, the most common distractions they admitted to while driving were:
- Petting their dog (52 per cent)
- Bodily restraining their dog while braking (23 per cent)
- Using their limbs to stop dog climbing into front seat (19 per cent)
- Reaching into the back seat to interact with their dog (18 per cent)
- Having their dog on their lap while driving (17 per cent)
- Treating / feeding their dog (13 per cent)
- Photographing their dog (3 per cent)
The AAA re-emphasised how dangerous this behaviour can be as just looking away from the road for two seconds can double the likelihood of a car accident.
The Importance of Dog Car Restraints
Perhaps most worrying is the perception that dogs don’t need to be restrained in cars, or rather “my dog doesn’t need a car restraint.”
While 83 per cent acknowledge the dangers of an unrestrained dog in the car just 16 per cent used a dog restraint on their pet while driving.
While many claimed they didn’t see the point in using a restraint on their particular dog due to a calm temperament or just commuting short distance Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA National Traffic Safety Programs manager, emphasised that every unrestrained dog was both in danger and endangering its driver in a road accident:
“Drivers should use a pet restraint system for your dog every time their pet is in the vehicle,”
“An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in its path.”