As the weather improves and the sun stays out longer, we find ourselves heading to more outdoor activities. This might mean that you take your pets with you more often. Maybe you drive them to the park or let them go with you while you run errands. Having your pets with you can be fun and, at times, necessary, but having pets in the car while you drive increases the risk of a crash.
A recent study showed that both the overall and at-fault crash rates for drivers 70 years of age and older were higher for those who often let pets ride with them. Researchers at the University of Alabama-Birmingham completed this study. The results point out a part of distracted driving that we typically forget. While we usually recognize texting, passengers and cell phone conversations as big driver distractions, we don’t often discuss the dangers of pets in the car.
Having your furry friend in the car, whether restrained or unrestrained, is a major distraction. Potential risks of driving with a pet in the car:
- Some pets are prone to carsickness and anxiety in the car. Worrying about a nervous or carsick pet will take your focus off the road.
- If unrestrained, pets can be a huge distraction to the driver. Pets distract the driver by making noise, hopping in the driver’s lap, or blocking the driver’s view.
- Pets that are not restrained properly can be severely hurt in accidents.
When you must travel with your pets, reduce risk of distraction and crashes by following these tips:
- Never let pets ride in the car unrestrained.
- Never let them sit in the passenger seat, even if they are restrained.
- Use the crate, harness or belt that works best with your pet. Always follow the instructions to make sure the restraint is set up properly.
- Having a passenger hold your dog or cat is not the same thing as a restraint.
- When on a long road trip, always prepare your dog or cat by limiting food and water before the trip. If prone to carsickness, ask your vet about medication or techniques to prevent carsickness. Remember to stop often to let your pets get fresh air, have a bathroom break and move around.