More than one-third of pet owners don’t restrain pets while in the car, AAA survey finds

Pet owners didn't say they let their dogs drive, but they admitted to other dangerous practices, AAA survey finds.

Pet owners didn’t say they let their dogs drive, but they admitted to other dangerous practices, AAA survey finds.

Do you drive with your pet sitting in your lap? That’s not  safe, but 26  percent of  Florida pet owners admit they drive  with their furry companion sitting in their  laps, AAA said Friday.

While 77 percent of pet owners like  to take their  pets  for a drive, about  35 percent  of those never crate or restrain their  pets  while in their vehicles,  and that’s also dangerous, a recent  AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey found.

One  in 10 pet owners can’t resist snapping a photo of their pets  while  driving.

Dangers of Traveling with Your Pet

Almost 37 percent of pet owners stated they do not use a pet restraint because they primarily take short trips with their pet. However, in the case of a crash, a loose pet will be thrown around the vehicle regardless of trip length – a danger to passengers as well as the animal.

“A 10-pound dog involved in a crash at only 30 mph becomes a 300 pound projectile, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of force,” said Amy Stracke, Managing Director, Traffic Safety Advocacy, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “This poses a serious risk of injury or even death for either your pet or anyone else in its path, reinforcing the importance of restraining your four-legged friend every time they are in the car.”

One in six  pet owners admit to becoming distracted by their pet while driving. The majority of drivers admit to engaging in risky behavior while behind the wheel; petting their animal was the most common activity, cited by 42  percent.. Other distracting behaviors drivers admitted to include allowing their pet to freely move from seat to seat (26 percent), allowing their pet to sit in their lap (26 percent), giving food or water (16 percent) and 11 percent have taken a photo of their pet while driving. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, taking your eyes of the road for two seconds doubles your risk of a crash. Attending to your pet while driving could easily take your eyes off the road for more than two seconds.

“These behaviors can distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash,” Josh Carrasco, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Using a pet restraint can aid in limiting distractions and help protect pets and passengers. A restraint will not only limit distractions, but also protect you, your pet and other passengers in the event of a crash or sudden stop.”

How to Travel With Your Pet

Keep the following tips in mind so that everyone, including your animal friends, has an enjoyable and safe trip:

  • For safety reasons, pets should be confined to the back seat, either in a carrier or a harness attached to the car’s seat belt. This will prevent distractions as well as protect the animal and other passengers in the event of a collision.
  • Never allow your pet to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. It’s illegal in some states; the pet also can jump out or be thrown out of the truck bed. Harnessing or leashing it to the truck bed is not advisable either: if it tries to jump out, the pet could be dragged along the road or the restraint could become a noose.
  • Avoid placing animals in campers or trailers.
  • Don’t let your dog stick its head out the window, no matter how enjoyable it seems. Road debris and other flying objects can injure delicate eyes and ears, and the animal is at greater risk for severe injury if the vehicle should stop suddenly or be struck.
  • AAA recommends that drivers stop every 2 hours to stretch their legs and take a quick break from driving. Your pet will appreciate the same break. Plan to visit a rest stop every 4 hours or so to let him have a drink and a chance to answer the call of nature.
  • NEVER leave an animal in a parked car, even if the windows are partially open. Even on pleasant days the temperature inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 10 minutes, placing your pet at risk for heatstroke and possibly death. On very cold days, hypothermia is a risk. Also, animals left unattended in parked cars can be stolen.

 

AAA Consumer Pulse™ Survey
The AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey was conducted online among dog and cat owners living in Florida from April 12 – 28, 2016. A total of 199 residents completed the survey. Overall survey responses are weighted by gender and age to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Florida. Total survey results have a margin of error of ± 6.9 percentage points.

 

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