Two dogs in the back of an SUV with the door open


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Keeping your dog safe in the car

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 window with an ecstatic grin. 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. Most dogs love to ride shotgun. But as 60% of drivers admit, they’ve been distracted by their pets. Even if they’re not in the front seat, the issue of pets distracting or obstructing the driver from safe operation of the vehicle is serious. 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. Follow the law in your state to avoid getting a ticket or citation.

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.

Insurance implications

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.

Contact Us

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.


Product, service, program, credit, and discount availability and limits vary by state. The information provided on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not a full explanation of products, services, or coverage. For more information, please contact Electric Insurance Company at 800.227.2757. If there are discrepancies between the information on this site and the policy, the terms in the policy apply.
Electric Insurance Company Risk Coaches help you assess your current coverages and exposure to risk based on the information you provide during your discussion. The services provided are for informational purposes only and do not create a professional or fiduciary relationship. Incomplete information or a change in your circumstances after your meeting may affect coverage requirements or recommendations.