For many households, pets are another member of the family. They are always by your side or at your feet, eager to spend every moment with you. It can be difficult to refuse a cute, furry face begging for a ride in the car. Many people take their pets with them to run errands, to the park, or on a road trip. It is important to take the same precautions with your pets that would with your children or other passengers in your vehicle. You need to keep your pet safe and minimize distractions and potential danger while driving with an animal in the car. Animals can very easily become lodged between the driver and the brake pedals or steering wheel, and can be seriously injured by an air bag in the event of an accident .
Safely restrain your pet
Just as humans are required to wear a seat belt while in a moving vehicle, so should an animal be safely restrained while riding in a car. This prevents the animal from climbing around and distracting the driver, and keeps it safe in the event of an accident. There are a few different options for restraining your pet during a car ride.
Carriers and Crates
Depending on the size of your pet, a carrier may be the best option for cats or small dogs. Carriers can usually fit in the seat next to you or in the back seat, and can also be held in place by a seat belt. Larger dogs may require a crate, if your vehicle is large enough to allow one. Be sure to pad the carrier or crate with a soft cushion to protect the animal from injuring itself in the event of an auto accident.
Look at your local pet store for a harness or vehicle restraint system that attaches to the seatbelts in your car. They offer a similar level of safety that a seatbelt provides for a human, and allow for a degree of mobility so the animal can shift around in the seat for a comfortable position.
Cargo Partitions and Barriers
Larger cars and SUVs may have the option to install a semi-permanent barrier between the cargo area and the passenger area of the vehicle. This keeps larger pets safely contained in the rear part of the car and away from the driver and passengers.
Do not open the windows
While many pets - dogs especially - like to feel the wind against their snouts, it is not safe to allow your pet to stick its head out the window while the car is in motion. Debris can fly into the animal's eyes or nose and cause serious injury.
Do not let your pet sit in your lap
It is dangerous to allow an animal to sit in the front seat of a vehicle, and even more unsafe to have them sit in your lap while you are driving. Even smaller dogs or cats can pose a risk for the driver and passengers in the car , as they can easily and unexpectedly wiggle out of your lap and onto the floorboard or dash of the car and cause distraction.
The safest way to keep you and your pet safe while traveling is to restrain it in the back seat or cargo area of the vehicle for the duration of your trip. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of auto accidents in South Carolina, and loose pets are too often a source of distraction. If you and your pet have been injured in an auto accident, please contact the knowledgeable legal team at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers.