The Dangers of Driving With a Dog in the Car

August 17th, 2020

If seeing a dog hanging its head out of a car window brings a smile to your face, you’re not alone. Dogs are man’s best friend after all.

Whether they’re taking their furry friends to a dog park, the pet store, or simply along on errands, most pet owners have brought their dogs along on car rides at some point.

However, an unrestrained dog in your vehicle can significantly increase your risk of an accident, and the risk of injury to your dog!

What the Statistics Say About Dogs in Cars

  • 84% of pet owners have driven with their dogs in the car, but only 16% use any form of pet restraint system (AAA).
  • When pets are unrestrained and free to roam the cabin, drivers report being distracted more than twice as often, and they make more than twice as many dangerous driving moves (Volvo).
  • More than half of pet owners take their hands off the wheel to pet their dogs while driving if the animals are in the car (AAA).
  • One in five pet owners have to take their hand off the wheel while driving to prevent their dogs from climbing into the front seat of the car (AAA).
  • 17% of pet owners let their dogs sit in their lap while they drive (AAA).
  • Pet owners are more than three times as likely to use a pet restraint system in the car after becoming aware of how unrestrained pets can injure themselves or others (AAA).
  • 71% of pet owners say they would purchase a vehicle with built-in pet restraints (Volvo).

Why You Should Always Restrain Your Dog in the Car

Although you don’t need to ban your dog from the car completely, it’s important to make sure that if you do bring them anywhere, they should always be properly restrained in either a carrier, with a harness or seat belt intended for use by dogs, or behind a barrier to prevent them from accessing the front seat. 

When dogs and other pets are allowed to freely roam the cabin, they often want to be where you are! And this means:

  • Sitting in their owner’s lap while they are driving
  • Pawing or nudging at the driver
  • Blocking the view out of the passenger side window
  • Standing on the center console
  • Stepping on the gear shift
  • Jumping into the footwell and blocking the brake and accelerator

Any of these behaviors is extremely distracting and dangerous, especially when the car is in motion.

Car Accidents Involving Dogs

Whether your car accident was caused by your dog, a dog in another vehicle, or something else, having an unrestrained pet in the car can be dangerous for you and your pet.

In a crash, unrestrained animals can become dangerous projectiles, as they will be thrown by the force of the crash, likely injuring themselves and others in the car. If the dog is sitting in the front seat, they could also be seriously injured or killed by deployed airbags.

After a crash, an injured dog could also escape the vehicle. This puts the animal at risk of either being struck by another vehicle or causing another crash as other drivers swerve to avoid the animal. Dogs have also been known to aggressively defend their owners after crashes, preventing emergency responders from reaching them to treat injuries.

Any way you look at it, the best thing you can do for yourself and your beloved pet is to make sure they are always properly restrained whenever you let them get in the car. They’ll appreciate being safe and sound a lot more than being allowed to hang their heads out the window, we promise.

After an Accident, Call Dudley DeBosier

After a car accident, you will be facing a lot of bills – medical bills, repair bills, and especially all the daily costs of living you can’t afford if you’re unable to work due to your injuries.

When an accident isn’t your fault, we believe it isn’t right to be forced into debt over expenses caused by someone else’s negligence. That’s why we fight for accident victims by making sure insurance companies don’t get away with lowball offers or rejections.

If you have been in an accident, contact our firm today to learn what we can do for you.