Distracted driving has quickly become one of the country’s leading causes of car accident fatalities. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,450 deaths were caused nationwide by distracted driving in one year. According to PennDOT, there were more than 15,000 distracted driving accidents in Pennsylvania in 2017.
When we discuss the dangers of distracted driving, most will refer to cell phone use, eating or drinking, or talking to a passenger in the car. However, most do not think about one major distraction: pets.
Most pet owners are always concerned about their pet’s safety. Yet, when traveling with their pets, many owners leave them unsecured in the vehicle and are free to move around the cabin. This behavior can easily lead to a distracted driving accident.
A survey by AAA completed by people who drive with their pets revealed:
- About 64 percent of pet drivers admitted to engaging in pet-related activity that is potentially distracting.
- Over 29 percent of drivers reported being distracted by their pets in the car.
- About 84 percent allow their pets to ride in the car unsecured.
Many drivers admitted to engaging in distractions such as petting their dogs while driving, playing with them, giving them treats, or driving with them on their laps.
Driving with your unrestrained pet is not only dangerous to you but also for your pet. Unsecured pets can suffer serious injuries or even be killed if thrown from the car during an accident. They can also suffer injuries if thrown around in the cabin area. An airbag deployment can cause severe injury to your pet. An unsecured pet could also easily escape your vehicle if they become frightened.
Safety Tips for Driving With Your Pet
Driving with your pet this way is especially dangerous, but there are ways to still travel with them while reducing distractions. Here are a few safety tips to help eliminate distractions so you can travel safely with your pet:
- Use the back seat or cargo area: You should never travel with your pet upfront, no matter how tempting or convenient. Having your pet in the backseat or the cargo area is much safer for your dog. This helps minimize any distractions they could cause the driver.
- Use the right restraint: There are many options, but you want to ensure the pet restraint you use properly fits your pet and minimizes your pet’s movement comfortably. Never use a seat belt or car seat that is designed for humans. Additionally, depending on your size, you can use a harness for a small or large pet.
- Use a crate: Another good option to keep your pet from distracting the driver is using a crate, especially for larger animals. A crate can safely go in the cargo area, and there are attachment points that you can use to secure the crate correctly. A crate also offers extra protection inside the vehicle in an accident.
- Use a barrier: Many dogs have trouble relaxing when restrained or in a crate. You can try a back-seat barrier for your vehicle, preventing your dog from coming up on its own or if you have to brake suddenly.
- Schedule stops: If you travel a long distance, always schedule stops for your dog so they do not become restless. Let them walk around and stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, or burn off some energy.
- Do not feed while driving: Use the scheduled breaks to feed your dog if you have to. Never do so while driving or even give them treats; it is distracting and a choking hazard while the vehicle is moving.
Media Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Accident Victims Injured by Distracted Driving
Distracted driving accidents have been on the rise for several years. You may be entitled to compensation if a distracted driver has injured you. Our Media car accident lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. are here to help. Call us today at 610-565-3701 or fill out our online form for an initial consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.