Much research has been focused on the consequences of texting while driving and indeed any cellphone usage at the wheel. But that’s far from the only distraction confronting modern drivers. In fact, a new study takes a look at how dangerous it can be to drive with an unrestrained pet in the vehicle.
The University of Alabama-Birmingham conducted the research, which looked at the threat posed to persons over the age of 70 with a pet in the car. 2,000 drivers in that demographic, 691 of which had a pet, had their driving habits analyzed. The study found that simply having a pet in the car could increase the threat of a crash twofold.
Of those persons who had a pet, more than 50% admitted the occasional trip with their animal. At such times, the pet would tend to sit either in the backseat or the front seat. A scant 16% opted to utilize a system that would keep a pet in place in the vehicle, despite 83% acknowledging that traveling with a free-roaming animal would probably be more dangerous.
Researchers note that the distraction stems not so much from the pet interfering with driving ability but rather the mere presence of the animal. The thought is that any pet will pose a distraction because a driver will necessarily remove at least some focus from the road on occasion to check on their companion.