Many people take their beloved animal companions along with them to run errands, go on road trips and many other outings. A recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey conducted across 3 states found that 85 percent of people with pets take their animals in the vehicle with them for one reason or another. Yet, half of all people who do so admit to never or rarely using a pet restraint device.

Traveling in the car with an unrestrained pet can be dangerous, creating a serious distraction for the driver and increasing the risk that a motor vehicle collision will occur. Pet owners are distracted by many different things when the animal is in the car. Animals can become afraid and require comforting, or can bark and take an owner’s focus from the road. Some owners hold their pets on their lap, pet them, or even feed them.

Our experienced car accident lawyers know that many victims of collisions have been hurt by distracted drivers. It’s important to keep in mind that pets may be just as much of a distraction as cell phones or electronic devices.

AAA’s data revealed that the majority of people traveling with pets partake in unsafe behavior while operating a vehicle. Among surveyed pet parents who take their 4-legged children with them in the car, 42 percent of drivers said they pet their animals, 17 percent have given their pets food and water, and 12 percent have actually taken a picture of their pet while driving. However, only 13 percent of respondents actually admitted that their animal has caused them to become distracted behind the wheel.

Pets should be restrained while in a vehicle not only to avoid driver distraction, but also because it is safer for the animal and other passengers in the car. If an accident occurs, a pet that is not restrained could be ejected from the car and badly hurt. A 10-pound dog can become a 300 pound projectile force and an 80-pound dog can become a 2,400 pound projectile force in a collision at 30 MPH. Anyone inside the vehicle could be seriously injured by a flying animal with that amount of force.

Pets, passengers, drivers and other motorists on the road are all safer if pets in the car are properly restrained by owners. AAA says the best way to prevent distractions and to limit the potential for injury is to confine your pet to the backseat in a carrier or harnessed to a seatbelt.

If you or someone you love is injured by a distracted driver, our Harrisburg auto accident lawyers can help. Contact Metzger Wickersham today for your free consultation.