Having Dogs In The Car May Be Unsafe

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More and more dogs are hitting the road with their owners—but could they be causing crashes? 

Monique Griego has more on some alarming new statistics.

While plenty of people pound the pavement with their pooches, it’s now common for Fido to jump in the car and go for a cruise.

“Maybe a few times a month,” said Alyssa Dennis.

Dennis isn’t alone.  More owners are bringing their dogs along for the ride and AAA says that’s leading to dangerous driving conditions which can cause crashes.

“They don’t realize the potential distractions that dogs can cause,” said Christine Delise, AAA.

According to AAA’s study, 56 percent of dog owners drive with their pets, but only 16 percent restrain them.  Out of those who said they take their dogs in the car and out on the road, 65 percent admitted to being distracted.

“I do occasionally pet the dog if it seems he’s getting nervous or uncomfortable,” Dennis said.

Petting their pooch was the most common distraction at 56 percent, followed by 23 percent who restrained the dog when they braked and 19 percent who had to stop the dog from jumping into the front seat.  All these risky behaviors can result or have potential for a crash.  So if you’re going to hit the road, AAA recommends you buy a harness or a car seat for your pet. 

Dennis invested in a harness for her dog, Lucky.  She hopes other owners realize the risk.

“Either the dog could get really hurt or cause you or someone else to get really hurt,” she said.

WJZ looked up a few prices for dog restraints and car seats and found some for as cheap as $20.

In 2008, there were more than 23,000 crashes caused by distracted drivers.  However, they don’t have exact numbers for how many were caused because of pets.

  • KGB America

    Lord! where does the nanny society end?!!!! Life itself is dangerous! What’s coming next? Driving with dogs will be illegal? Then how are we suppose to get them to our houses from the puppy mills? How are we supposed to get them to the vet to be euthanized when they are too old and sick? Yes, this message is negative and pessimistic, but so is my opinion of the Communist take over of our once free society by all these “government knows best” socialist laws and policies.

  • Matt

    I think this article is alerting people that pets can be a distraction and some people may not realize that. It’s not saying you shouldnt do it. I dont’t think there is a reason to go nuts about the gov’t. What i can’t get over is the amount of people that drive with a dog in their lap, i mean come on. Would you drive with a child in your lap? If we are gonna talk about things becoming illegal, thats def one of them.

  • Leonard

    I’m an adult with ADHD, my children are distracting when I drive and when I’m not in the mood for their loud singing to every song or arguing I leave their butts at home. We have to maintain focus when we drive there is just too much to have to watch out for on the road. As much as I love my hyper active dog I don’t make a habit of cruising with her.

  • William Harrington

    I drive with my dogs in the car. I do not think that AAA is against dogs in the car so much as saying the animal should be restrained. Many times I have seen persons driving with their dog in their lap with no thought of the danger should they have to stop suddenly or swerve. These actions could cause the dog to be crushed between the driver and the steering wheel. I have seen people driving with their dog holding their head out the driver’s window not realizing a sudden swerve could throw the dog out. I would not care if it were only the driver who would suffer(good riddance) but I care about other peoople on the road and the animal who may get hurt due to the owners idiocy.

  • Leonard

    I’ve seen that too william and I alsways worry about what would happen if the person had to slam on brakes or were hit ot forced into another object. My dog loves it in the car but she wants to climb up front, back in the back and back and forth. I worry she will distract me and I may cause an accident. It would be hard to forgive myself if I caused someone else harm and damage or it she got hurt when I could have left her home and walked a little extra with her later. For me, I know I have an attention deficit even though it’s treated my best option is to not risk any undue distraction either way. I think people with normal attention should think likewise. Unruly children, cell phones, loud music, unruly passengers, the list goes on and on.

  • Susan

    I occasionally take my well trained dogs places, but they are restrained when in the car for THEIR safety. A pet can get ejected or fly into the windshield, dash or back of a seat in a crash (even a low speed one) just the same as an un-restrained person can. I love my pets and do all I can think of for their safety, which includes crating the smaller ones and belting their crates in and using a pet seat belt resraint harness for the big guy. Of course, this also makes me a safer driver as I do not have to worry about them. Well behaved pets in the car is a matter of properly training and restraining them, it is not rocket science. It makes me sick whenever I see a car go by with the dog (and kids) hanging out the window or, worse yet, loose in the bed of a pick up, which is ILLEGAL in Maryland.

  • Kel

    Hello….I to take my dogs in the car…but that is to the parks for walks….vets…or around the block on hot days like this…the owner of the dog needs to realize the dangers and never have Fido in his/her lap…bad..bad..bad!….please do not pet them when anxiety is to high…dicipline….watch Ceasar…Dog Whisper and train yourself on how to make your dog happy and follow commands…..I personally do not use restraints just because what if they really do need to get out of the car if an accident arises…it is to ones own preference….being in a car is dangerous in itself……by the way, did we forget the real reason dogs like to go on car rides….to feel the wind in their faces…..watch “Bolt” lately! We all get distracted when driving whether it be a cell, text, something falling off a car, people throwing trash out the window…etc. …if you are uncomfortable…then don’t do it!!!!….I know that when my dogs go with me in the car…it makes people smile…..and that is a good thing…If I am frustrated that day or it is just too much to take the dog out…then I don’t….our animals feel our energy and will react in the manner we feel…listen to yourself before taking your best friend for that ride….are you in control! Best to all and your BEST FRIENDS!

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