We love our pets, so we take them with us in a car on short trips and even on long vacation drive. Here are some important ways to be better prepared and avoid or deal with an accident.
According to CNN “Rethink your dog roaming freely” article, “All pets should wear collars and identification tags, particularly during car rides.”
First, keep a printed record of your pet's name and even a photo in the car whenever you travel. That can help first-responders render aid or conduct a search in the event that you're unable to after a crash. Include vaccination records, directions for pet care and your veterinarian's contact info.” First responders, pet safety experts and fire fighters say there are other risks associated with the unrestrained animals involved in car accidents: pets run away and never been found, they survive the crash but “then die when they flee from the scene and dart into traffic.” Unrestrained frightened pets pose a threat to emergency workers, police, firefighters and paramedics by protecting their owner and attacking emergency people. Some dogs try to protect their owner and don’t allow paramedics to treat an injured person. This puts the life of the owner and others at risk. Authorities report that, in those cases, emergency workers are often forced to put the dogs down so they can save the injured person's life.
It is also very important to keep your pet restrained. A dog or cat can climb on the vehicle’s dashboard, blocking the driver’s view, or jump down and block the gas and break pedals. Pets become projectile “missiles” if the car suddenly stops or makes a sharp turn. The consequences are obvious. Another danger: a pet can cause the car’s gearshift to engage. that moving vehicle could kill or injure pedestrians and the pet.
In 2009, motor vehicle laws have to be changed to better regulate driving with pets in all 50 states. Here are some states with restraint laws:
- Connecticut, California, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Rhode Island charge fines from $50 to $200.
- Arizona, Connecticut and Maine charge drivers penalties for driving with a pet on their laps.
- Hawaii forbids drivers to transport a pet on their lap.
- New Jersey – a NJSPCA officer can stop a driver who they believe is improperly transporting an animal. Tickets range from $250 to $1,000 per offense, and a driver can face a disorderly person’s offense under animal-cruelty laws.
- Rhode Island – Democratic State Rep. Peter Palumbo has proposed legislation that would make having a dog in your lap a distracted-driving violation.
In the European Union (EU) it’s the law to restrain a pet while driving a vehicle. This law is especially strongly enforced in Germany.
Now, what about pets riding in the back of a pickup truck or a flatbed vehicle? Dogs can jump out, fall out of a moving truck or hit the cab when the driver hits the brakes. In September 2016, ABC 7 Eyewitness news Automotive Specialist and editor David Kunz reported in his article “Driving with dogs: Alarming statistics, safety tips” that “ Never let your dog in the front seat because that adds to potential distraction, and if your airbags go off, your furry family member will very likely get hurt. “If you drive a pickup truck, your dog will not be safe riding in the bed. At least 100,000 dogs have been killed while riding in the truck beds.” and “keep a printed record of your pet's name and even a photo in the car whenever you travel. That can help first-responders render aid or conduct a search in the event you're unable to after a crash.”
In the summer time, cars get hot. The vehicle’s interior can get up to150 degrees Fahrenheit in an hour. Don’t leave your pet in a hot vehicle. At least roll down your windows and keep your pet hydrated at all times. Esurance.com indicates that “dogs and cats can't sweat the way humans do to cool down, and they lose water by panting. If you need to leave your pet in the car, roll some windows down and try to park in the shade to help them avoid heat stroke. If they could speak, they'd thank you.”
Protect the ones you love! Get your pet a well-made and well-fit harness and a seat belt. Put on your seat belt and do the same for your pet. SEAT BELTS SAVE LIVES!