Distracted Driver Accidents

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Driving With Unrestrained Pets in the Car

Mariela CorellaMariela Corella

Car accidents can be prevented, especially those caused by a distraction. According to data from the NHTSA, in 2016 there were 3,450 fatal accidents caused by a distraction. Many things could distract us while driving, such as texting, changing the music, using our cellphones, eating, and pets traveling with us. If you will be traveling with your dog or a pet, there are certain safety precautions you should take to make sure you and your furry friend get to your destination safely.

How Can Pets Cause a Car Accident

We’ve all seen a dog or another animal crossing the street and we do everything we can to avoid hitting them. You may slow down, suddenly push the breaks or swerve from your lane to let them cross the road unharmed. But these sudden actions could cause a serious car accident. Breaking suddenly could cause a rear-end accident. Swerving from your lane or making an unexpected lane change could also cause a car accident. Before slowing down or changing lanes to avoid hitting an animal, make sure you do a quick check to see if there are other cars close to you, if there are, stay in your lane and avoid sudden breaks. Trying to keep the animal safe could cause other drivers injuries and property damage.

According to a survey by AAA and pet traveling products company Kurgo, 17% of pet owners surveyed admitted to letting dogs ride on their laps while driving. A dog or pet riding on a driver’s lap not only distracts them but it prevents them from properly maneuvering the steering wheel. This practice puts the driver and pet’s life in danger if they are involved in an accident and the airbag is deployed it will seriously harm or kill the pet. In some states like Michigan, New Jersey, and Rhode Island it is illegal for an animal to ride on your lap, other states impose hefty fines as well.

If you’re traveling with your dog or other pet, use a pet carrier or use a pet restraint system. Keeping your pet restrained while driving will prevent distractions that could cause a car accident.

Staring at something that interests us is called rubbernecking. We are all guilty of rubbernecking, for example, when we see a car accident on the road. It’s in human nature to stare at something that piques our interest. Many drivers are guilty of this engaging in this risky behavior when they see a cute pet on the street, the distraction can be quick but according to studies by the NHTSA, taking your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds increases your risk of a car crash.

If your dog distracted you and this caused your car wreck, you can be held liable in a car accident claim for any personal injuries and property damage that the other driver suffered. It’s our duty as responsible drivers and pet owners to ensure the safety of our pets as well as our own and that of other drivers on the road. The safest way to travel with animals in your car is to use a pet carrier, a travel harness or a kennel that’s crash-tested.

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