Dog owners who drive with their animals in the car are subject to unique distractions, according to a survey by car insurance provider AAA and Kurgo. More than 46 million households across the nation own one or more dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association, and they may bring them along on long trips and short errands alike. Whether or not you own a pet doesn’t currently affect your car insurance rates but with research proving it adds a danger element to a journey, things may be about to change.
Of the survey’s respondents, 83 percent indicated an unrestrained dog inside a moving car is dangerous, but only 16 percent used restraints on their pets. Only 9 percent did so when not personally aware of a specific instance in which an unrestrained dog caused or received an injury in a crash. Nearly a third of drivers who were aware of such an occurrence used restraints.
More than 40 percent of those surveyed said their dog did not need a restraint because he or she is calm, while almost as many said they had never considered the idea. Nearly one-third said it was unnecessary because their dog only accompanied them on short trips, while 12 percent responded they wished their dog to be able to stick its head out the window.
Dangers of Pets
Pets can pose a few different problems when it comes to driving. An unrestrained pet may be thrown by the force of a crash, potentially injuring the animal and any person he or she is thrown into. Larger dogs may exert more pressure if they do hit someone. Regardless, having a dog in the car may mean a higher chance of crashing in the first place.
Without realizing it, these pet-owning drivers may be increasing their risk of a crash and a higher auto insurance quote by bringing a distraction into the car. Even a well-behaved dog may inadvertently distract the driver by seeking attention or trying to play, or just attempting to climb into the front seat.
Although only 29 percent of respondents admitted to being distracted by their dog while driving, 65 percent said they had engaged in at least one potentially distracting activity while driving, such as petting, playing with or holding the dog while driving, or trying to restrict a dog’s movement, among others. Splitting a driver’s attention between multiple tasks, even if only briefly, may substantially increase the risk of an accident by adding to his or her reaction time and making it more difficult for the driver to promptly notice problems.