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Driving with Pets Can Increase the Risk of Distracted Driving Accidents

December 31, 1969

Having a dog can add as long as seven years to your life, but not if that dog is in the car with you on a regular basis. While animals can be wonderful companions, especially for senior citizens who may be retired and who may not get to see a lot of people regularly, taking your pets in the car with you can be a significant distraction. A recent study of seniors shows just how much of a distracted-driving danger your pet can be. 1422078_coco_the_golden_retriever.jpg

Our Costa Mesa car accident lawyers know that anything that causes you to look away from the road for two seconds or longer can greatly increase your chances of becoming involved in a car wreck. Unfortunately, a pet in the vehicle with you can cause you to look away and this can put you and all the other motorists on the road at risk.

Study Shows Pets Put You at Risk
According to NBC News, researchers at the University of Alabama-Birmingham recently interviewed more than 2,000 seniors who were living on their own in independent residences rather than in assisted living areas. The questions that were asked of these seniors centered around whether they had pets, whether their pets went in the car with them, and whether they had been involved in auto accidents.

The outcome of the research showed that 691 of the 2,000 seniors who were surveyed had at least one pet in the home. More than half of the 691 seniors who reported that they had pets also indicated that they took their pets in the car with them when they went somewhere, at least on some occasions. Those who do travel with pets also indicated that the pets usually sit in either the front or the back seat and that the pets are often unrestrained in the vehicles.

These animals, from their vantage points in passenger seats or in the back of the car, likely draw their owners' attentions away from the road during the ride, at least temporarily. This resulted in a significant increase in accidents. In fact, when seniors traveled with their pets frequently, they had double the accident rate as other elderly adults in the same age group who either had no pets or who said their pets rarely traveled with them.

Having double the crash rate is not insignificant and everyone with a pet needs to be aware of the risks they take on when they bring their animals in the car with them. While seniors are especially vulnerable to becoming involved in a distracted driving crash since it can take them longer than younger drivers to react or refocus, every single driver with a pet in the car could be taking his life (and the lives of other drivers) into his hands.

Rather than taking unnecessary changes and significantly increasing your risk of a crash, you may wish to leave your pet at home the next time you go on a car trip. If you do want to bring your animal with you, as many pet owners do, then you should ensure your pet is properly restrained. This can be done using crates, seatbelts designed for dogs or other vehicle accessories.

Not only will securing or restraining your dog help your animal to be less of a distraction in the car, but it will also help to keep your animal safer in case an accident does occur so the dog doesn't fly through the car or end up running into traffic. This means that you, your pet and every other driver on the road can have a better chance of avoiding a crash and getting home safe just by ensuring you simply secure your pet properly.

Contact Howard Law, PC today, if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident. Call today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. 1-800-872-5925.

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