Although I consider myself to be a pretty passionate safety advocate against distracted driving, as well as having a huge heart for animals I have an embarrassing confession to make: Everytime I take my boys for a car ride I become a distracted driver, while also putting my four-legged kids in harm’s way. I’ve never really taken the time to think about the distraction that having Cheech & Diesel in the car brings. A survey of drivers who travel with their dogs showed 56% of pet owners have driven with their dog in a vehicle at least once a month over the past year.1 (Guilty)
Sixty-five percent of dog owners admit to engaging in at least one potentially distracting activity while driving with their dog:
- 52% admit to petting their dog (Guilty)
- 23% admit to using their hands/arms to keep their dog from seat hopping (Guilty)
- 18% admit to reaching in the back seat to interact with their dog (Guilty)
- 3% admit to taking a photo of their dog (Only guilty when my husband is driving, but I am sure that is just as distracting)
In addition to the driving distraction that Cheech & Diesel present as passengers in the car, they also pose another safety hazard — becoming a flying missile in the event of a sudden stop. At an abrupt stop Cheech & Diesel would keep moving at whatever speed the car was traveling. In the event of a crash, even if I was only going 30 mph, Diesel’s 80 pound frame would exert about 2,400 pounds of force.1 There are some auto insurance policies that now offer coverage for pet injuries sustained as the result of an accident — however there is no coverage for the unbearable heartache one would endure in such a tragedy.
Tips for a safer trip:
- Large dogs (such as Diesel) should be restrained with harnesses linked to a car’s seat belt. Smaller pets should ride in crates or a travel-safe dog bed.
- Dogs should never ride on the driver’s lap.
- Don’t let your dog stick their head out the window — even though they love it. Dirt and debris can cause injury or infection.
NEVER leave an animal in a parked car, even if the windows are partially open. Even on pleasant days the temperature inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes, placing your pet at risk for heatstroke and possibly death. Pets can very quickly suffer just like humans, from heat stroke or heat exhaustion. On very cold days, hypothermia is a risk.
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