New Study Shows Unrestrained Dogs in Moving Vehicles Are Dangerous
A new study from Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll is showing that allowing dogs to remain unrestrained in moving vehicles leads to dangerous driving behaviors, more time distracted and increases stress both on drivers and their dogs. According to a Forbes.com report, while pets are treated as essential members of the family that often accompany their owners on vacations and road trips, many pet owners are not keeping safety in mind when they drive with them.
What the Study Shows
The report followed 15 drivers and their dogs for more than 30 hours on the road to examine how driving with an unrestrained pet affects driving behavior compared to owners who restrain their pets with seatbelts specially designed for pets, harnesses, crates, carriers, etc.
The study found that when pets were allowed to roam freely, unsafe driving behaviors more than doubled. Researchers observed unrestrained dogs engaged in dangerous behavior such as climbing on a driver’s lap or hanging their head out the window. The time drivers were distracted in these situations more than doubled. There were instances when dogs jumped from seat to seat or caused drivers to take their eyes off the road.
Researchers also noted that stress on both drivers and their dogs increased when pets were unrestrained. On the other hand, they found that drivers felt significantly calmer when dogs were buckled in. Researchers say pets happily roaming around the car can seem cute, but it poses serious risks for both drivers and their pets in terms of causing more distractions and increasing the chances of serious injuries in the event of a car accident.
What Steps Can We Take?
Here are a few tips experts give to prevent car accidents caused by pets distracting their owners while driving:
- Never drive with your pet sitting in your lap or even on the front seat. When there is a crash, a dog or cat could be thrown from the seat into the windshield. In addition, airbag deployment could kill a pet. A pet seated in your lap could get caught under the steering wheel and cause an accident, or can be projected forward during a crash.
- Always restrain your pet in the vehicle using pet restraints. Pets that are unrestrained could fall and suffer injuries. In some cases, they might jump from the vehicle and get struck by oncoming traffic.
- Do not allow pets to lean out of car windows. Debris that enters their eyes could cause corneal injuries that could even result in blindness.
- Do not leave your dog unattended in your vehicle, even during cooler months.