Driving with Dogs

On the surface, the idea of driving with dogs sounds like a fun way to spend a little extra time with your furry friends. But in reality, driving with pets, including cats, dogs and other small animals is an extremely dangerous activity that increases the likelihood of death or serious injury for you, your pet and other people.

Unfortunately, dogs and distracted driving have a long history, the practice of driving with dogs is ingrained in the American tradition.

But with distracted driving deaths and injuries on the rise, it’s time to take a closer look at the practice of driving with pets and consider safer methods of traveling with your dog.

The Dangers of Driving with Dogs

Driving with dogs falls under an umbrella of behaviors known as “distracted driving.” Other distracted driving behaviors include texting, eating or drinking, personal grooming, reading, adjusting radios or navigation systems and any task that requires drivers to take their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road.

According to CDC statistics, distracted driving killed more than 3,328 people and injured more than 421,000 people in 2012 in the U.S. A percentage of these accidents involve individuals who are driving with pets that aren’t properly secured in their vehicles.

The problem of dogs and distracted driving presents serious safety risks to drivers, passengers and pedestrians—in a car traveling at 55 mph, taking your eyes off the road for just 5 seconds is the same as driving blind for 100 yards.

Safety Tips for Driving with Dogs

The good news is that you don’t have to give up driving with dogs to improve highway safety. The trick is to make sure that dogs are secured in a way that improves their safety and prohibits them from distracting drivers.

  • Don’t drive with your dog on your lap. Driving with a dog on your lap is one of the most hazardous things you can do in a motor vehicle. A sudden action by the dog can obscure your vision or cause you to react in a way that leads to a serious auto accident.
  • Never allow your dog to ride with its head out the window. Many dogs love to ride with their heads out the window. But this can lead to the dog jumping out of the window while the car is moving, eye injuries or other events that can distract the driver.
  • Properly restrain your pets. Dogs should always travel in back seats, either in a specially designed safety harness or a crate, in a way that makes it impossible for them to reach drivers.

For more tips about distracted driving and driving with dogs, visit Decide to Drive’s Driving Tips page.