Our pets are our companions and it's only natural that we want them to accompany us on adventures, whether that's running an errand across town or driving all the way across the country.
Unfortunately, although the idea of taking a car ride with your pet sounds like a fun way to spend time together, it's also surprisingly dangerous.
Though federal safety agencies don't keep data on pet-related distracted driving accidents, a survey sponsored by AAA and Kurgo Pet Products offered valuable insight into this unique driver distraction.
While only 29 percent of respondents agreed their dog was a distraction in the car, a shocking 65% admitted to engaging in distractions like petting their dog, letting the dog sit in their lap, giving the dog treats or food, or playing with the dog while driving. Yikes!
The fact that pets may divert your attention from the road isn't the only thing that makes driving with them potentially unsafe. During an accident, an unrestrained pet may inadvertently injure itself or people in the vehicle. In a 50 mph crash, a 10 lb. dog can generate up to 500 lbs. of force; in a 30 mph accident, an 80 lb. dog can be as great as 2,400 lbs. of force.
However, staying safe on the road doesn't mean having to leave your furry friend at home. You can reduce your risk of causing a pet-related distracted driving crash by restraining your dog with a specially-designed pet seat belt or in a carrier. Other pet safety tips include feeding your dog a few hours before the trip so they don't get carsick and making them ride in the backseat to avoid airbag injuries in the event of a crash.