The Risks for Driving with a Dog in the Car and How to Reduce Them

Although driving with a dog in the car is not quite as dangerous as drunk driving or texting while driving, it has caused numerous collisions. Woods Insurance, Worcester, MAIt may be fun to have your dog in your lap while you drive, but unrestrained dogs can quickly become a distraction and can both mentally and physically impair your driving ability.

But maybe you’re worried that your dog is scared or even car sick. Or your pet might just be so adorable that you can’t help but glance at him or her from time to time. No matter what the reason, taking your eyes or your mind off the road for even a couple of seconds dramatically increases your risk of an accident. It is also very possible that your dog might obstruct your view by climbing onto your lap or the dashboard. Smaller dogs could even get between your feet and the pedals.

If any of these incidents occur while driving with a dog in the car, it could lead to an accident. And in the event of a sudden stop or a collision, even the smallest dog can be thrown forward with the force of hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds. This will not only damage your car and injure you pet, but it puts you and any passengers at a serious risk as well. There is also a chance that the loose dog could escape from your car, become hurt or lost, and cause accidents. So whether you’re driving to the vet for an annual check-up or if you’re headed on a family vacation, make sure that you remember the following safety tips for driving with a dog in the car.

The most important rule for driving with a dog in the car is securing the dog. No matter how well-trained your dog may be, they should not be trusted to remain still through the entire car ride. Although you might feel bad about restricting your dog’s mobility, it really is the safest course to take. There are several different methods for securing your dog. Options range from pet barriers that keep dogs in the back seat, to dog safety harnesses and dog seat belts, to kennels and crates, and even car dog seats that allow dogs to look out of the window. Choose whatever you and your pet find most comfortable. If you decide to use a dog seat belt or harness, make sure the dog doesn’t try to chew through the straps before you hit the road. If you worry about your dog chewing itself loose, you are opening up an opportunity to become distracted.

Another distraction that you have the ability to reduce is the fear that your dog may become car sick. If you have never driven with your dog before, take a few short test drives. If motion sickness develops, be sure to consult your vet on potential remedies.

Finally, it is also important to know where to place dogs in the car. Even if they are restrained, you should never let pets ride in the front seat or stick their heads out of the window. (For the same reasons that you wouldn’t put your small child in the front seat!) Dogs in the front seat can be severely injured by airbags. Dogs with their heads out of the windows are susceptible to many injuries from debris in the air or any other objects you might pass. Those pebbles that sometimes fly up and hit the roof of your car could easily hurt your dog as well.

As long as you practice these safety tips the next time you find yourself driving with a dog in the car, you will be able to minimize distractions and therefore lower your risk of an accident. The knowledge that your pet is safe, secure, and comfortable will allow you to devote one hundred percent of your attention to the task at hand— driving.

If you would like to learn more driving safety tips, feel free to contact us at TJ Woods Insurance. We’re happy to help make sure that you and your furry family members are safe while you drive. If an unfortunate situation should arise, we will be here to help you through it.

Did you find these safety tips for driving with a dog in the car helpful? What places do you drive to with your dog most often?