A new survey examined habits of people driving with canine companions and possible distractions. It found that drivers not only love to bring Fido along, but they also often engage in risky behaviors when man’s best friend is along for the ride.
The survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) and Kurgo (that offers pet restraint products) asked dog owners how often they drive with their dog and about their habits behind the wheel.
Thirty-one percent of respondents admit to being distracted by their dog while driving; however 59 percent have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog.
More than half (55 percent) have pet their dog while driving, and one in five allowed their dog to sit in their lap (21 percent). Other distracting behaviors drivers admitted to include giving food and water to their dog (seven percent) and playing with their dog (five percent).
These behaviors can distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash.
An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents stated that they have driven with their pets on a variety of car trips including day trips, local errands and leisure trips, the pet store, dog parks and to work.
However only 17 percent use any form of pet restraint system when driving with their dog. Use of a pet restraint system can aid in limiting distractions and help protect your pet, suggests AAA.
“Restraining your pet when driving can not only help protect your pet, but you and other passengers in your vehicle as well,” cautioned Beth Mosher, AAA director of Public Affairs.
“An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path.”
There are a variety of reasonably priced products available to help dog owners reduce distractions their pets might cause while driving while keeping them safe.
Further, AAA recommends owners utilize a restraint system anytime they are driving with their pet—even close to home.
The online study was conducted among a sample of 1,000 dog owners who have driven with their dog in past 12 months. The survey findings were released by AAA Wednesday, August 18.