Most of the attention on distracted driving focuses on the dangers of cell phone use. However, driving with pets in the car can be just as hazardous for everyone on the road. Not many organizations currently track statistics on accidents caused by pets, but surveys indicate that Americans habit of driving with a pet in the car may be more dangerous than many imagined.
If you have been injured in a car accident due to a distracted driver contact a trusted Fort Worth injury attorney today to find out your legal options.
How Distracting Are Our Pets When We Drive?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that drivers avoid any activity which would take attention away from the road for more than two seconds. Any longer than two seconds and a vehicle will travel too far to notice any unexpected hazards, such as a bicyclist or other car. For example, a vehicle traveling at 55 miles per hour will cross the length of a football field in only five seconds. It is easy to see how any distraction can become dangerous for both the driver and other people on the road.
A survey by AAA in 2011 found that 65% of dog-owning drivers admitted to petting, holding, restraining, reach for, or taking photos of their dog while driving. All of these activities take a drivers attention away from the road and can lead to accidents. A driver who is distracted by a pet and causes an accident will still be liable for any damage he or she causes; a driver can liable for negligence or reckless driving even if the distraction is an animal and not a cell phone.
Keep Your Animals Safe in the Car
A dog or cat can be thrown around the cabin of a vehicle and seriously injured during a car accident. Not only is this dangerous for the animal, but it is dangerous for everyone in the car. An unrestrained, 80-pound dog can generate up to 2,700 pounds of force during an accident at 30 miles per hour. This type of force can seriously damage any human passengers who are hit by the dog, and can also cause catastrophic damage to the dog if it hits a seat or a windshield.
AAA recommends that all pets in a vehicle are restrained, which will both minimize the distractions caused by the dog, and keep the dog safe in case of an accident. There are many inexpensive pet harnesses, carriers, and crates for all sizes of pets, which can help protect your animal in the event of an accident. When restraining your pet, be sure to restrain the animal in the back seat. The force of a deployed airbag can injure a pet just like it would a small child.
Everyone has a responsibility to avoid distracted driving and keep our roadways safe. Do your part by restraining your pet while driving, and make sure that both of you get home safely.