How Traveling Pets Can Place Your Family at Risk

dog and driverWhen you think about driver distractions, the number one worry is texting. Over the past decade, thousands of car accidents happened as a direct result of drivers paying more attention to their phones than the road. However, texting isn’t the only distraction that can lead to an accident. In fact, one distraction that many drivers face on a routine basis is caused by their furry best friends.

Pet-Related Risks for Driver Distractions

Driving with your pet in the car, whether you’re going for a ride, taking him to the vet, or transporting him, is even more distracting to you than a toddler. Though your little fluffy bundle of love may be perfectly well-behaved at home, the motion of the car and your pet's curiosity can turn an otherwise passive animal into a distressed traveler. Unfortunately, your pet’s behavior can directly affect your ability to drive safely. Rather than paying attention to the road, your focus is split between driving and comforting and controlling your animal.

An AAA survey in 2011 found that the most common distractions that pets have on drivers include:

  • Noise. Distressed animals voice their objection without concern for anyone else. Cats can meow and howl continuously for hours when upset, while dogs may whine and bark directly into your ear. These noises are not only annoying, but also cause you to instinctively turn your head toward the animal and away from the road, or take your hands off the wheel to pet and soothe the stressed creature.
  • Guilt. Every animal owner wants to provide the best experience for their pets as possible. So while driving, many motorists  interact with their pets in a variety of ways to make the trip enjoyable, especially if it's to and from the vet clinic. This may include petting, giving treats, or playing. All of these disturbances can cause you to lose focus and control of traffic safety, and it only takes two seconds of distraction to double your risk being involved in an accident.
  • Control. The most common distraction that AAA found with pet-passengers is the need for drivers to take their hands off the wheel to pet the animal, keep him from jumping into the front seat, or safeguard him while applying brakes. Some drivers even allow animals into their laps, thinking that will help them calm down. Only 16 percent of survey respondents use some kind of restraint while an animal is in the vehicle.

Keep you and your pets safe while driving by restraining them, either with a leash or within a carrier, even if they seem calm when they first get in the car. Remember that in the event of an accident, your loose animal is unprotected upon impact. For a dog or cat weighing 10 lbs., the force of a crash at even 30 mph is 300 lbs. of pressure. The likelihood your pet can survive such force is slim.  

Settlement Effects and Help for Pet-Distracted Drivers

Despite the reason you lost control of your vehicle, insurance companies may try to take advantage of your situation to decrease your settlement amount. However, car accident attorneys Frank R. Johnson and J. Lance Gilbert can help you build a strong claim to avoid the blame game. In addition to explaining your options for compensation, we provide you with the support and guidance you need to aid your recovery. Contact us today to get started.

Do you feel you’re more distracted when your pet is riding with you? Should laws state all animals should be caged or restrained during transport? Let us know your opinion in the comment section provided. We’re eager to learn how our potential clients feel about distracted driving, and your words may help others better understand the risks.

 

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