Who doesn’t love taking the fur kids out for a hike or to the dog park? You’ve thought ahead and packed what your pet will need to have a good time and be safe: a leash, water, water bowl, and maybe a ball or two. But are you also keeping your dog safe in the car?
Keep their heads inside the vehicle. Everyone has seen dogs riding with their heads out the car window. They’re usually grinning ecstatically as the rush of air holds a flood of fascinating scents. So who’d want to be a kill-joy and keep their dog’s head inside the car? If you love your pooch, you do. That’s because airborne items such as insects and leaves and stirred up road debris can hit your dog in the face at the same velocity at which your car is moving. That’s a good way for your dog to lose an eye, get a broken tooth, or otherwise be injured.
Keep them out of the front seat. Yes, most dogs love to ride shotgun with their human. But as 60% of dog owners have admitted, they’ve been distracted by their pets while driving. Even if they’re not in the front seat, the issue of pets that distract or obstruct the driver from safe operation of the vehicle is serious enough that the following states have some form of law related to driving with your pet: Alabama; Arizona; Connecticut; Hawaii; Iowa; Maine; Massachusetts; Mississippi; Ohio; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; Washington, D.C.; and Wisconsin. Avoid getting a ticket or citation by following the laws in your state.
Keep them safely restrained. Much like a child’s car seat, a restraint harness or travel crate can keep your dog safely contained in the event of a sudden stop or an accident. It’s a simple matter of physics: in a collision that happens at 30 miles an hour, a Labrador-sized (~75 lbs.) dog hurled through the air will impact whatever it hits – which could be you or a passenger – with approximately 3,000 pounds of force. That’s more than enough to cause a fatality to the dog and any humans in the dog’s path.
Keep the rear passenger seat footwell covered. It’s very easy for a dog to slide into the footwell and break or dislocate his legs or back if you stop abruptly. Fill the footwells with a soft dense material, or purchase a rear seat cover that attaches to the front seat and covers the footwells.
If your pet has been a contributing factor to a car accident, and you are cited for violating a pet transportation law, your insurance policy may not cover you. You’d potentially be required to pay the other driver for damage to his vehicle, the other driver’s medical treatment, and possibly more. Dogs bring us a lot of joy, and it’s our responsibility to keep them safe. It’s also your responsibility as a driver to avoid distracted driving that could endanger your passengers and other motorists. Your dog’s a good boy – make sure you’re a good owner.
Our Risk Coaches™ are licensed insurance professionals who are trained to look at coverage from your perspective. They’re glad to help you navigate the often-perplexing world of insurance coverage. Contact your local Risk Coach professional or call us at 800.342.5342, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.