Unrestrained Pets in Vehicles a Source of Distracted Driving

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While much emphasis has been placed on texting as a serious source of driver distraction, less attention has been given to role unrestrained pets can play in distracted driving-related incidents.

One health resource encourages restraining pets in vehicles, noting that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration categorizes unrestrained pets as a driving distraction. Keeping pets properly restrained helps drivers keep their focus on the road and, in the event of a crash, prevents the pet from getting injured or becoming a projectile that can hurt vehicle occupants. When pets are restrained they are also more likely to stay in the vehicle when windows are rolled down to ask for directions or pay tolls.

When traveling with a cat, have the cat ride in a carrier and put a seatbelt through the handle to secure the carrier in the case of an accident. There are several systems on the market for restraining dogs including baskets and seatbelt harnesses.

Some useful things to look for when shopping for a pet restraint include metal (rather than plastic) hooks, latches and loops; that the restraint attaches to the vehicle’s seat belt or child safety restraint anchor and is the appropriate size for the pet; and that the restraint keeps the pet in the back seat.

As a Fresno personal injury lawyer, I urge motorists to reduce distractions when driving as much as possible, and encourage drivers to take steps to keep themselves and their pets safe on the road.