Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe when Traveling

Keeping pets safe during trips

Are you one of the 20 percent of Americans surveyed by AAA who say they’ve let their dog sit on their lap while driving? Or are you one of the 31 percent who said they’ve been distracted by their dog while driving?

Pets Cause Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 20 percent of car crashes with injuries are due, at least in part, to distracted driving. One AAA study said that two-thirds of drivers admit to playing with, feeding or petting their dogs, or letting them sit in their lap, while driving.

We at Suburban Ford of Waterford won’t rap you on the nose with a newspaper, but we will kindly suggest that there are far better ways to blend your love for animals and your love for the open road, whether you’re driving a C-Max, F-150, Edge, Escape, Fusion, Focus, Mustang, Taurus, Explorer or any other Ford.

With summer upon us and the urge to travel breaking free, it’s smart to make sure your pet doesn’t break free and become a “flying missile” in your car. “In an impact…they can not only hurt themselves but hurt family members, too,” warns Col. Frank Rizzo, superintendent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in an article in USA Today.

While Michigan doesn’t have any laws requiring you to keep your pets safe in you car or truck, it’s still a good idea to keep them from roaming your vehicle unrestrained.

“You wouldn’t put your child in the car unrestrained, so you shouldn’t put your pet in the car unrestrained, either,” Rizzo said.

Besides, if you’re leaving the state with your animal in your car, it’s important to know the rules elsewhere. In New Jersey, you can get a ticket for $250 to $1,000 for improperly transporting a animal. Rhode Island is considering legislation that would make having a dog in your lap a distracted-driving violation.

Tools to Keep Pets Safe

Pet cages or crates are ideal, but they should be secured to your car so they don’t end up as missiles with your pet inside them. If you can’t stand the idea of your pet stuck in a cage, dividers are available that contain your pet in the cargo portion of your vehicle. Other dividers can keep them from coming into the front seat to become an obvious distraction to the driver.

Just remember that animals can’t anticipate driving conditions; they’re going to lose their balance when you stop suddenly, make hard turns or unexpectedly react to an obstacle or potential accident. Even if they’re behind a barrier, they’re still not secure in case of an accident.

Pet seat belts are another option, and a variety are available. Some booster seats for pets can be used in conjunction with restraints.

In addition to restraining your pets while driving, remember that cars can heat up quickly – more quickly than you might imagine. Cracking the windows doesn’t help to keep temperatures in check, especially when you’re talking about temperatures that can increase nearly 20 degrees in just 10 minutes and nearly 45 degrees within an hour.

If you need any more ideas or specific suggestions, stop by and talk to us at Suburban Ford in Waterford, where we love animals as much as you do!