Pets need to ride safely, experts say
Do you drive or ride with your dog on your lap? “If you really love your pet, restrain it,” advises the Lycoming County Safe Communities Task Force whose members include AAA North Penn, AARP, Area Agency on Aging and regional transportation and highway safety advocates. An unrestrained pet can cause a crash, be injured or killed in a crash, or possibly injure passengers in a crash.
According to a recent report from the Los Angeles Times, experts estimate that tens of thousands of crashes each year are caused by unrestrained pets. An unrestrained pet can be a distraction and, especially in the case of a dog riding on the driver’s lap, can interfere with both the driving and the driver’s vision.
In a crash, that unrestrained pet can become the driver’s or passenger’s airbag, being crushed with a force of thousands of pounds. For example, in a 30 mile per hour crash, a 100 pound person would hit a dog with a force of 3,000 pounds!
“Allowing a pet to ride unrestrained up front also places it in front of an airbag, which can deploy with a force powerful enough to kill any size dog,” said Chris Smith, a member of the task force. “Or consider the pet that becomes airborne and can injure the driver and passengers. Even a very small pet in a low speed crash can hit with an impact of well over 100 pounds,” she adds.
An unrestrained pet could also be ejected from the vehicle, probably going through glass, onto the road and into traffic. “What pet could survive that?”
Additionally, an unrestrained pet if it makes it through the crash may run off after the crash, or can interfere with emergency personnel attempting to assist the driver and other occupants.
“So, if you really love your pet, restrain it,” recommends the safety task force. “You wouldn’t let a child ride that way would you?”
Many products are available for restraining pets. As you research these products, which are available through pet stores, veterinarians and online, look for a restraint that keeps the pet in a part of the vehicle away from the driver, and will also protect the pet and others in a crash. Look for pet restraints that have been crash tested.
For more information on transporting pets safely and links to products for pet restraint in vehicles, visit www.barkbuckleup.com.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 173 fatal crashes and 12,000 injury crashes involving animals in 2009.