Our pets are members of our family and often travel with us on long or short journeys. Here are some important tips and facts to keep in mind while traveling with your pets:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that every year, more than 1.5 million crashes are caused by distraction. Pets can be a distraction while driving and some states even have laws in the books requiring pets to be restrained in the vehicle.
Beyond distraction, unrestrained occupants can become projectiles in the vehicle in a crash, swerve or sudden stop and potentially hit the driver or another occupant in the vehicle, injuring or potentially killing them.
Human/pet collisions: If you were involved in a collision at just 10 miles per hour and have a 40 pound unrestrained dog in the vehicle, the dog would strike occupants with a crash force of 400 pounds, which could severely injure or kill vehicle occupants. (NHTSA)
Unrestrained occupants (pets) could be thrown against a hard surface in the vehicle or even ejected, where they are 14 times more likely to receive spinal damage or 4 times more likely to be fatally injured. (NHTSA)
Restraints help prevent ejection, keep you safely within the protected vehicle cabin and help to spread crash forces across the stronger parts of the body.
Even in routine driving maneuvers, occupants can feel the forces of changed speed or direction, but can generally brace themselves in advance and stay in position on the vehicle seat. In emergency swerves, unrestrained occupants are more likely to strike part of the vehicle or be ejected and become injured.
Restraining your pets offers the following benefits:
o Keeps your pet safely secured in the vehicle and prevents them from being injured on a hard vehicle surface.
o Keeps yourself and occupants safe so you do not run the risk of being hit by your pet if thrown in a crash.
o Reduced distraction: Restraining pets greatly reduces distractions and allows the driver to focus on the road. There have been cases where drivers became distracted while trying to move the animal and cases where cats have attacked the driver.
o First responder access: EMS personnel responding to the scene of a crash are often forced to take extreme measures when attempting to enter a vehicle with an unconscious driver and unrestrained protective dog.
It is recommended that you buckle up all of the occupants in your vehicle on every trip, no matter how short. The majority of collisions happen within two miles of our home. Be sure to choose a pet carrier or pet restraint that can be secured in the vehicle.
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