Are Dogs Driving Us to Distraction?

Sure, your dog loves sticking his head out of your passenger side window, but are Fido’s in-car antics putting you at risk?

According to AAA’s “Doggie Distraction” survey released last week, one of three participants admitted that they’re often distracted by their pet when they have them in the car; 55 percent pet their dogs while driving, and 21 percent drive with their canine companions in their laps. And somewhat alarmingly, five percent admit to playing with their dogs while driving (we assume this does not mean fetch).

Unfortunately, taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances for a crash. And while many may scoff at the idea of putting your dog in a car seat, the fact is, in the event of an accident, your dog is a potential projectile, says one AAA rep:

“An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path.”

Ouch. AAA recommends securing your dog in either a crate, barrier system, or restraining harness to ensure both their safety and yours. In the survey, only 17 percent of respondents said they used a restraint system for their pet, despite the fact that 25 states currently have laws on the books that restrict the portage of an animal in a moving vehicle in a way that could cause torturous injury or death. Looking for a harness? The Ruff Rider brand sells the Roadie and Roadie Elite versions of harnesses that work with your vehicle’s seat belts for $29.95 and $39.95 respectively. It might just be what you need to make sure your pup doesn’t cause undue distraction.

For more on traveling with pets, check out the AAA Petbook. Looking for road trip ideas? Take a look at our Drives of a Lifetime.

Photo: MyShot User CJ Yunger. For more dog photos, visit MyShot Dogs.

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