Dogs hanging out the window of a vehicle may look seriously cute, but letting a dog roam around a vehicle can be an extremely dangerous roadway behavior. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, dogs were listed as one of the many distractions that caused the thousands of traffic fatalities last year.
Although the traffic agency does not specifically count the number of fatal car accidents caused by a roaming pet, they have confirmed that they pose a significant danger to their driver as well as other passengers on the road.
The pet does not understand that the driver needs to pay attention and can distract them by seeking attention from their owner whether it is through licking their face, obstructing their view or even distracting them with unwanted behavior such as chewing the upholstery or becoming car sick.
Not only can a dog roaming around in the car, panting out the window or even curled up in the driver’s lap be a dangerous distraction, but the furry little pet can also become a hazardous projectile. “A pet that weighs 50 pounds, in a 35 mph collision, is projected forward like a cannonball with 1,500 pounds of force, and that can cause critical injuries to the folks in the front seat,” said a safety expert with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Although Hawaii is currently the only state that has banned motor vehicle operators from allowing a pet to be seated in their lap, other states are considering passing laws that regulate pet passengers.
Source: Denver Post “Safety agencies: How risky is that doggy in the window?” Sue Manning 1/23/11