Survey Adds Another Distraction to Drivers: Dogs

By Trevor Dorchies | August 03, 2011
When you hear the phrase "distracted driving," you probably think of someone fiddling with a cell phone while behind the wheel. A recent survey conducted by AAA concluded that dogs riding in the car can be just as distracting. A total of 1000 pet owners who have taken their animal companions on the open road in the last 12 months were questioned, and the answers were surprising. Have you ever pet your dog while behind the wheel? If so, you're like 52 percent of the people polled saying they have done so while driving. Other findings show 18 percent of respondents don't allow the dog on their lap, instead reaching back to pet their furry companion. Another 19 percent have tried blocking their dog from joining them in the driver's seat, but 13 percent still allow it. Almost one quarter of the people asked revealed that they hold on tight to their pet when coming to a stop. Most vehicles on the road today don't have the proper restraining devices for animals, which can be very problematic for both the driver and animal while braking. "An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in its path," said AAA national, traffic safety programs manager Jennifer Huebner-Davidson.
While 83 percent of people polled believe carrying their pet unrestrained is dangerous, only 16 percent actually secure them. AAA recently named the Toyota Venza and Honda Element as the best vehicles for kids and dogs. Honda's Element even offers a package for those who take their dogs on the road a lot.  A nylon-webbed crate keeps the canine out of reach of the driver and in the cargo area. Some features on the dog package include a softer floor in the cargo area, a spill-resistant water bowl, and an entry ramp allowing easier access in and out of the van. Do you take Fido on the road with you often? Are you guilty of one of the statistics stated above? Tell us about it below in the comment section. Source: Consumer Reports