Pet peeve? Dogs distract more than half of drivers, survey says
Who knew driving with your dog could be so dangerous?
More than half of people who drive with their dogs engage in distracting behavior, according to a new survey by AAA and Kurgo, which makes pet travel products. That behavior includes petting a dog, using a hand or arm to keep a dog from climbing onto the front seat while the car is moving, using a hand or arm to hold a dog in place while applying the brakes or even taking a picture of a dog while the car is in motion.
|Dog-owning drivers face numerous distractions behind the wheel, especially if a dog is not restrained.|
Tending to an unrestrained dog often leads to auto accidents. Looking away from the road for as little as two seconds doubles your risk of being in a car crash, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic and Safety. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 resulted from distracted driving.
Despite this, only 16 percent of drivers surveyed use a pet restraint.
The survey was conducted online and sampled 1,000 dog owners who have driven with a dog in the past 12 months. Americans own about 78 million dogs.
“Drivers should use a pet restraint system for your dog every time their pet is in the vehicle,” Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, traffic safety programs manager for AAA, says in a statement.
Two out of five people who say they don’t use a pet restraint didn’t think they had to because their dogs are calm. About 10 percent of respondents said they didn’t restrain a dog while driving because they wanted to let the pet stick its head out the window.
Still, as AAA points out, a calm dog will be thrown with the same amount of force in a traffic mishap as a not-so-calm dog.
“A restraint … will not only limit distractions, but also protect you, your pet and other passengers in the event of a crash or sudden stop,” Huebner-Davidson says.
Another troubling stat: Seven of 10 respondents who drive with a dog and children under age 13 in the same vehicle say they drive while the pooch is unrestrained.