With Labor Day weekend fast approaching — when many Americans will make one more road trip, often with a pet onboard, to catch summer’s last gasp — Volvo is sharing the results of a new pet-travel safety study conducted on its behalf by The Harris Poll. Released to coincide with National Dog Day (today, don’tcha know?), the unique study reveals just how distracting driving with an unrestrained pet can be.
Part online survey (2,000 adults 18 and older, including 1,433 pet owners) and part observational study (15 licensed drivers), “Volvo Reports: Keeping Pets Safe on the Road” shares pet-centric Americans’ concerns about traveling with pets, as well as their actual behavior while driving with their dogs. With in-car cameras recording, study participants drove with their dogs unrestrained and restrained over the course of nearly four weeks. Drivers were analyzed for a total of 30 hours, averaging two hours per driver.
Here are the three major findings the study revealed that should make you rethink driving with an unrestrained pet:
1. Dogs Double Danger
The number of unsafe driving behaviors more than doubled when a dog was unrestrained: 649 for the group when dogs were unrestrained versus 274 when restrained
2. … And That Goes Double for Distraction
The time drivers spent distracted also more than doubled when the dog was unrestrained: 219 minutes for the group versus 99 minutes.
3. It’s Not Worth the Stress
When dogs were unrestrained, stress levels rose for humans and canines alike: Heart rates for unrestrained dogs were seven beats faster per minute, and human heart rates dropped by 28 to 34 beats per minute when dogs were restrained.