Many American families have a treasured pet who is part of the family. If you are driving with your pet, however, your pet can be a danger unless you take precautions. An unrestrained pet can be a distraction to the driver and can leap about the car, possibly causing an accident. In the event of an accident, according to MarketWatch, a 60-pound dog thrown at 35 miles per hour makes a 2,700-pound impact, more than enough to cause serious personal injury to yourself and your passengers. When traveling with pets, make sure that you:
1) Get your pet used to travel. Before you load your pet and passengers into a car for a long trip, take your pet out on smaller trips with just yourself. At the end of the trip, offer your pet a treat for good behaviour. Once your pet is used to car travel, he or she may be quieter on trips, and this can mean less distraction for the driver.
2) Keep small animals in cages on all trips. Smaller pets are a danger because they can dash under the driver’s feet, interfering with the brake and gas pedals. Small pets running around the floor of the car can also be a distraction. Even if you are only going a few block and even if your small pet has never shown any signs of anxiety in a car, be safe and place the animal in a plastic or metal cage or kennel. Avoid using cardboard boxes, as many smaller animals can escape these closures quickly.
3) Keep large animals restrained on all trips. Larger animals such as dogs can pose a threat, especially if they jump on the driver or jump on the dash, obstructing the diver’s view. Many pet owners with well-behaved dogs believe that they dog would never act up on a trip, but even the best-behaved dog might act erratically if distracted by a squirrel outside the window or groceries in the back seat. You can use a steel barrier to create a separate space between the front seat and the rear seat. You can also place your dog in a kennel in your car.
4) Bring all the pet supplies you need with you. Having treats, a change of newspaper in the event of accidents, and water is important. Keeping your pet comfortable means keeping your pet calm, and that is safer for everyone.
5) Pull over if you need to tend to your pet. If you need to restrain your pet, feed your pet, or deal with an accident, pull over completely and park your car before dealing with the problem. Trying to drive while you are looking at your dog can lead to a fatal car accident.
6) If traveling with two or more people, have one person in charge of the pet. Have one person talk to the pet, feed it treats and generally make sure the pet is comfortable and happy. This allows the driver to focus on the road.