As pet parents, we make the utmost efforts to ensure our animals are content and all their demands are met, from their favorite food to the newest chew toy in the market. Our furry companions are inquisitive creatures and want to tag along with us everywhere. There are times when your cat or dog is in the mood for a car ride, and you are running late; you decide to seat him on your lap and leave. Well is that a safe decision?
Not at all! The pet travel regulations in most states in the US require animals to be restrained when traveling in a car. In 2012 AAA and Kurgo Pet Products conducted a survey which revealed staggering statistics regarding pet travel.
It showed that among all the respondents a whopping 84% had allowed their dogs to ride unrestrained in a vehicle. Furthermore, 56% accepted they had pet their dog while driving, 17% agreed that they let their pup sit on their laps and 4% even played with their dogs. All these are potentially distracting activities that can lead to severe accidents.
Why is Having an Unrestrained Pet in a Car Dangerous?
Although it isn’t difficult to understand how a pet roaming around freely in your car might cause a distraction, about 70% respondents of the survey didn’t consider it an issue. If you aren’t restraining your pet you are not only putting yourself in danger; it is also hazardous to your animal and everyone else traveling along.
1. They May Cause Distractions
Statistics show that each day about nine people are killed, and about 1000 get injured in accidents caused due to driver distractions. What some people perceive is that activities such as texting or talking on the phone are the ones that pose a threat but having an unrestrained pet is equally dangerous. Your animal might hinder your view of the road ahead or may cause you to take your hands off the steering wheel.
At times your pet may freak out or get in the way of you applying brakes. It may also distract your mind by acting impulsively or demanding attention. Since dogs are curious animals they may jump or run in case they see something exciting or start chewing the seat covers or belts. And these are just a few risks; various other activities might also cause harm to you or others around.
2. Your Pet May Become a Projectile!
As much as being unconfined is dangerous for the driver and other people around, it is no less risky for the animal itself. If you don’t confine your pet, there is a high chance of it flying out of the car. An accident was reported a few years ago when a Rottweiler was found sleeping on the highway; later it was discovered that she got thrown out of a car in an accident and luckily survived.
But not every dog is as fortunate as she was. Research conducted by AAA & Kurgo also shows that a dog that weighs 10 pounds if gets thrown out of a car driving at 50 miles per hour would hit an object with a force of 500 pounds. While for an 80-pound dog the force would be 2400 pounds at a speed of 30 miles per hour. If a dog would hit an object with that amount of power, imagine the severity of the injuries it may suffer.
3. The Passengers are also at Risk
Not just your pet but the occupants of the vehicle are equally at risk. In case of the driver slamming the brakes, a dog may hit other passengers of the car with a high-intensity force and may cause serious injuries.
4. Don’t Drive With the Pet Sitting On Your Lap
The airbag installed in your vehicle for the driver’s safety is highly dangerous for your pets. In the instance of a crash, the deployment of the airbag might crush your pet or cause fatal injuries.
5. Your Pet Might Run Away
In case your dog or cat gets frightened or confused, it may suddenly jump out of the car. Sometimes our inquisitive companions may also spot a distraction and suddenly decide to run after it; this can cause your pet to get injured. There is also the possibility of suffering head or eye injuries in case your pet hangs their head out of the vehicle. Restraining a pet also helps in case of accidents as the animal can’t escape or attack the rescue workers.
The first and foremost precaution every pet parent needs to take is restraining their pets. There are several options available, and you can select one that suits your needs:
You can purchase a crate for your dog or cat; if you have a small dog, then you can house it in the backseat. For medium or large sized dogs the crates can be placed in the luggage area. Make sure you secure the carrier by using a seat belt; it should also be robust and crash-tested.
You may also purchase a pet seat, a harness or a vehicle pet barrier to restrain your animal. Along with these restraints, there are other measures you may take to calm your pet before taking them for a car ride. Ensure that the animal is hydrated and exercised, take frequent potty breaks if traveling with a dog, and you can also give it treats for being well-behaved. Also, don’t allow your pet to hang its head out of the window.
When going for a trip with your furry-companion, make sure you take all necessary measures to prevent it from causing distractions. While buying any restraints make sure they are crashworthy. Most states in the US now have laws regarding pets being restrained, and you may get fined if caught with an animal roaming around in your vehicle.
Don’t wait for an unfortunate event to occur before you finally start protecting your animals. Remember precaution is better than cure! Make the smarter decision and save yourself, your pets, family, and others around you from the aforementioned potential risks.