Wednesday, August 25, 2010

AAA Study Says Dogs in the Car Are a Distraction to the Driver

From Consumer Reports:
"The issue of distracted driving continues to be in the headlines with more news about accidents from this dangerous behavior and more states banning texting while driving. Still, technology isn’t the only form of distraction. We recently covered distraction with kids in the car and now a new study shows how pets can contribute to the problem, as well.

The study by AAA, based on 1,000 dog owners who have driven with their pet in their car during the past year, found that 31 percent of survey respondents admit to being distracted by their dog. Plus, 59 percent have engaged in various distracting behaviors, with more than half the respondents said they petted their dog; 21 percent allowed their dog to sit on their lap in the driver’s seat; and others have given their dog food and water or played with them--all while driving.

Even if done for just a short time, these behaviors can increase the risk of a crash and potential injury. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your crash risk.

Eighty-percent of respondents drive with their pets on a variety of occasions, but only 17 percent use a pet restraint. An unrestrained pet can be a dangerous projectile in a crash, risking injury to itself and all other passengers in the vehicle.

"An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert 2,400 pounds of pressure,” says Beth Mosher, AAA Director of Public Affairs.

Manufacturers such as Honda, Subaru, and Volvo offer special equipment packages on some models to help keep your pet safety contained. Major pet stores and online retailers also sell restraint harnesses and other devices to help keep the family safe on the road."

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