Any responsible driver knows that it’s wrong to drink or do drugs and drive, but a new survey has revealed a new distraction to drivers – their pet dogs.
A study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), which examined the driving habits of dog owners, showed that they were distracted by their pets in a variety of ways.
Surprisingly, although nearly 60 per cent of those quizzed had driven with their dog within the past month, only 16 per cent of them had used a restraining device to keep their pet safe.
The most common reason for drivers taking their eyes off the road and their hands from the wheel is to stroke their dog, with just over half of all surveyed admitting to it. The proportion of drivers using their limbs to brace their pet whilst braking was almost one in four, whilst nearly one in five had used their arms to stop their dog from getting into the front passenger seat.
The survey also documented the more dangerous activities that drivers had engaged in; 18 per cent had leaned over to the back seat to play with their dog whilst driving, 17 per cent had allowed their pooch to sit in their lap whilst in control of their car, and 13 per cent admitted to feeding their dog whilst driving. Incredibly, 83 per cent of those asked understood that such activities and even having an unrestrained dog in the car, presented a hazard whilst in control of a vehicle.
Christine Delise, a spokesperson for the AAA advised caution when driving with a pet. She said:
“Drivers should use a pet restraint system every time their dog is in the vehicle.”
“A restraint will not only limit distractions, but also protect the driver, the pet and other passengers in the event of a crash or sudden stop.”
These are wise words when you consider that a dog weighing 10 pounds, if in 30 MPH crash and unrestrained, will exert a force of around 300 pounds. A larger 80 pound dog, in the same crash, could deliver a bonecrunching 2,400 pounds.
The AAA recommends that if you have to drive with your dog, make sure that he is safely restrained in the vehicle. Better yet, slip a dog lead on him and walk!