Have you ever been stopped at a red light and looked over to the car next to you only to see an adorable dog hanging halfway out the window, happy as can be? Considering that around 63.4 million American households own dogs, it’s likely you’ve traveled with your own furry friend! While dogs make amazing companions, they aren’t the best co-pilots for traveling by car. Traveling with an unrestrained dog in the car is dangerous not only for the driver, but for the pet as well. As we celebrate National Love Your Pet Day this week, here are some ways you can love your dog by keeping them safe in the car.
First, let’s look at some statistics. According to a survey sponsored by AAA, 65% of respondents participated in a distracted driving activity while driving with a dog.
- 52% said they have pet their dog while driving.
- 17% let their dog sit on their lap while driving.
- 13% admitted to giving their dog food or treats while driving.
- 4% said they played with their dog while driving.
- Only 16% said they use a pet restraint system while driving with their dogs.
As you can see, many people admit to distracted driving behaviors with their dogs in the car. This is a big problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 3,166 human lives in 2017. When you’re paying attention to your pet, you’re not paying attention to the road, and you’re putting yourself and others at risk.
Most dog owners would agree that their pets are part of the family, and they would never want any harm to come to them. Here are our three travel safety tips for dog owners:
1. Know the law in your state.
With distracted driving being such a common issue across the country, many states have new distracted driving laws. The laws vary depending on the state you’re in, but in general, it’s prohibited to drive while distracted. Some states have specific laws about traveling with pets. For example, it’s common for states to prohibit drivers from driving with a pet on their lap. A few states even require pets to be secured in a carrier or wear a seat belt. Make sure you’re familiar with the laws in your state before you get in the car with your pet.
2. Secure your pet.
An easy way to make sure your pet is safe while traveling is by making sure they are secure and don’t just have free reign of your vehicle. When your pet is allowed to roam the car at will, this puts them in danger. In the unfortunate case of a collision, your dog could be seriously injured. When you’re distracted by your pet, your chance of being involved in a collision increases. Minimize these risks by keeping your pet secure.
A well-ventilated carrier or crate is a great way to keep your pet secure in the car. Make sure the crate is an appropriate size for your dog. They should be able to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around in the crate. Keep the crate on a flat surface in your vehicle. You can also purchase a seat belt or safety harness for your dog. Make sure you research any product before you purchase it to make sure it’s safe for the size and breed of your dog.
3. Plan ahead.
Our final tip is to be prepared and plan your trip in advance. If your dog has never used a crate before, the morning of a six-hour road trip is not the ideal time to introduce her to a crate for the first time. Let your dog get familiar with your vehicle by taking short trips. When you’re planning a long trip, make sure you plan where you’re going to stop and make sure there will be rest areas for your dog. You can never leave your dog unattended in your vehicle, so make sure your stops are dog-friendly. Keep your car well-ventilated and remember to stop frequently for water and exercise breaks. If you plan ahead, your trip will go much more smoothly!
We hope these tips will help you travel safely with your beloved pets! If you’re interested in more traffic safety topics, consider taking one of our online courses. Click here to visit our website to see what courses we offer in your state!