Safety Tips While Driving with Pets

A dog in a cloth carriage restrained in the rear seat of a car using a pet leash, signifying keeping your pet safe while driving.Animal-lovers tend to think of pets as members of the family. Pet owners will often take their dog or cat along with them to the local groomer, pet store, or even on road trips. However, whereas humans can take precautions when driving, such as fastening their seatbelt, it’s much more difficult to impart the same level of safety for our pets. Seeing as animals can often be rambunctious and unpredictable, it’s best to become aware of some safety tips while driving with pets.

Massachusetts Laws Concerning Driving with Pets

Before we delve into safety tips, let’s first look at what Massachusetts laws say concerning driving with pets. Fortunately, the laws are pretty simple, as there is only one state law that specifically addresses the subject of restraining pets in the car: Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 22. This law forbids letting dogs ride unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck. However, in Massachusetts, it’s unlawful to have anything in your vehicle that can interfere with driving. Having a pet on your lap while driving qualifies as a violation of this law, which is subject to a $35 fine.

Safety Tips While Driving with Your Pet

We’ve established that allowing your pet to sit on your lap while driving is unlawful, but there are several other ways your pets can lead to distracted driving, which it’s why it’s important to take extra precautions and practice defensive driving techniques:

  • Keep Your Pet in the Rear Seat: As fun as it may sound to have your pet ride shotgun, it can be an unnecessary distraction while driving. Plus, the front airbags can be extremely dangerous for pets.
  • Use a Pet Seatbelt: Much like your child’s safety, you should ensure your pet is protected. Though a conventional seatbelt will not work for pets, they do offer pet harnesses that keep them safely secured to the seat.
  • Keep Your Pets in The Car: Don’t let your dog stick their head out the window. Although they’ll enjoy the fresh breeze, this can cause them to get harmful debris in their eyes.
  • Gate or Crate Your Pet: Invest in a divider that separates the front seats from the rear of the vehicle, or keep your pets crated for the duration of the trip. Don’t forget to fasten the crate to the car to prevent it from falling.

Beyond ensuring you are free from distractions from your pets, it’s a good idea to also bring food, treats, water, and other essentials with you and keep the car at a comfortable temperature.

Coverage for Pets Injured in an Automobile Accident

What happens if you’re involved in an auto accident while your pet is in the car and they regrettably become injured? If you’re not at fault for the damages, you can make a liability claim with at-fault driver’s insurance to cover the vet expenses. However, if you are found at fault, your auto insurance may not cover the medical costs. However, some homeowners insurance policies could cover vet costs. It’s wise to contact your insurance agent to determine under which circumstances your pet would be covered.

By applying these safety tips while driving with pets, you can ensure your entire family is protected. Of course, it also helps if you have the appropriate coverage, as car accidents do unfortunately happen. At TJ Woods Insurance, we can make sure you are paired with the right auto insurance and homeowners insurance geared toward protecting every member of your family – including the four-legged ones. Contact us today to learn more about the pet-friendly policies we can offer.