CARS.COM — In America, we’re obsessed with our animals. We love our furry friends so much, we consider them members of the family — and we take them with us anywhere we go.
Forty-six million U.S. households are home to an estimated 78 million dogs, and nearly 60 percent of us report driving with our dog in the car at least once a month — and nearly two-thirds of those admit to engaging in at least one distracting activity while doing so, including:
- Having to reach to prevent the dog from climbing into the front seat
- Holding the dog in their lap while driving
- Giving the dog treats
These distractions create a danger not only for you and motorists around you, but for your precious pooch you care so much about, too. And while some 83 percent of dog owners agree that an unrestrained dog is dangerous, only 16 percent use some type of pet restraint.
I’m with Cars.com’s resident dog whisperer Jen Burklow to go over some pet safety products you can use to keep your dog or cat from causing a crash, or being hurt in one.
Matt Schmitz: First of all Jen, what are the dangers of driving with an unrestrained animal in the car?
Jen Burklow: There are a few, Matt. An unrestrained pet can get underneath the driver’s feet near the gas and brake pedals or block the driver’s view of the road, potentially causing an accident. If the windows are open, a pet can jump out, possibly causing an accident or injuring itself. And if you’re in an accident, an unrestrained pet can fly through a window or escape when emergency personnel arrive, endangering themselves and others on the road.
MS: What are some of the products out there to make driving with your pet safer for everyone?
JB: There are two types of pet travel products: those that keep a pet from being a distraction, and those that restrain a pet and protect it in the event of a crash. Metal crates and tethers are examples of products that will restrain a pet but do little else. What owners should look for are crash-tested crates, pet carriers, harnesses and car seats such as those made by Gunner Kennels, Sleepypod and PupSaver; these will restrain and protect pets.
Finally, Matt, a pet should never ride in the front seat, restrained or unrestrained. Just as with young children, pets are in danger of being harmed if the airbag deploys.
We hope these tips will come in handy as the summer travel season begins and you hit the road with your four-legged family members.