Recently, I've been hearing a lot about minor mishaps and accidents involving pets riding in cars on a few other pet blogs. I know there are many pet parents out there who don't secure their pets while they are driving. Hey - I'm guilty of doing it too. When Shiner was a puppy, she used to ride on my lap in the car. I know now that's a big no-no, but I've learned a lot since then. Today, I have a guest post from Paul E. Lee about pet car harnesses and pet car safety. I think it's an important topic that many of us can learn from.
|Photo via Don Graham|
It is recommended that when placing a pet in a vehicle you restrain your pet using a safety harness; however the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) recently conducted a study and reported that none of the harnesses tested for the purpose of pet safety in a car effectively protected pets or humans.
It is commonly stated that pets should never travel without being restrained to a car seat (usually through the use of a harness that connects to an average seatbelt) or being kept in a crate on the floor of the car. This is supposed to protect both the pets and the passengers in the vehicle in case of an accident. In a car crash, a pet can go flying and become seriously injured and/or injure a passenger. Humans, including adults, young children and infants, are strapped down and secured in a car, so why aren’t animals?
The American Automobile Association (AAA) and Kurgo Dog Products conducted a survey in 2011 on the driving behaviors of pet owners who travel with their animals. The data showed that only 16% of pet owners actually restrain their dogs in their vehicles, 29% of pet owners say their dogs often distract them while they are driving and 17% of pet owners let pets sit in their laps while they drive.
Keeping a dog restrained is better than no option at all. A harness minimizes distractions caused by pets so that the driver can keep their eyes and focus on the road. Additionally, dogs moving freely around the cabin of a vehicle may block the driver’s vision, accidentally hit the gear shifts and smaller animals may jump beneath the driver and obstruct the pedals. The harness also ensures that the dog safely remains in one place without jumping out of the window or putting their head out the window, which can actually be quite dangerous.
Quick Tips for Traveling with your Pet:
- Do your research before buying a car harness for your dog; read the safety reports and reviews.
- Never leave your pet alone in a hot car. The interior temperature of a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels in a matter of minutes.
- Do not let your dog keep its head out of the car’s window.
- Do not put your dog in the bed of the truck.
- Keeping your dog in a crate in the car may help reduce motion sickness.
- Consider taking your pet to obedience training so they can learn the correct behavior for riding in the car.
- Check the laws in your state regarding restraining pets in the car or letting pets sit in your lap. You will get a ticket in New Jersey if you don’t restrain your pet, and in Arizona, Hawaii, Maine and Connecticut you will get a ticket if you let them sit in your lap in the car.
The CPS is currently working with Subaru to design a testing standard for pet safety devices in vehicles. The CPS also urges government and lawmakers to educate themselves on the lack of safety standards among the harness devices before passing legislation requiring pet owners to use them while driving.
About the Author: Paul E. Lee is the founding attorney of AA Accident Attorneys, a personal injury law firm in Newport Beach, California. He is a former police officer and Judge Pro Tempore for the Superior Court. He is passionate about pet safety and car safety and frequently blogs on each topic; you can read his blog here.