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Lawrence Egerton
Lawrence Egerton
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Don’t let your dog distract you while you drive

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Distracted driving caused by using a cell phone has been big news recently. Chapel Hill, N.C., became the first town in the nation to pass a complete ban on cell phone use while driving, as we reported last week. That really got attention, such as recognition from the National Safety Council.

Plenty of other distractions take drivers’ minds off the road: music players, food, kids, even just daydreaming. One that often goes overlooked is the distraction of a dog in the car.

Photo by Tobyotter

Dog restraints prevent driver distraction and provide safety and comfort for your pet.

According to a survey taken in 2011, nearly one in four dog owners (23 percent) said that over the past year they had used their hands or arms to hold their dog while applying the brakes. The survey was sponsored by AAA auto club and Kurgo, a maker of pet travel products. Other findings:

  • 56 percent of respondents drove with their dog at least once a month.
  • 19 percent had used their hands or arms to keep their dog from climbing into the front seat.
  • 18 percent reached into the back seat to interact with their dog.
  • 17 percent let their dog to sit in their lap or held their dog.
  • 13 percent gave their dog food or treats.

One of the things people do seemed so absurd it never would have crossed my mind. Of the people surveyed, 3 percent reported taking a photo of their dog while driving.

Try visualizing that. The driver has to take both eyes and at least one hand off the wheel. He focuses the camera on his pet, and takes the picture – “snap.”

Or maybe – “crash.”

The survey also said that 83 percent of respondents said they thought a dog moving about in the car can be dangerous, but only 16 percent used a restraint of any kind.

Using a restraint device is more than a good idea, it’s a life-saver. Not only does it help prevent crashes, it helps prevent injury to the dog if a crash happens. And after a crash, a frightened dog may run away from the scene, adding a frantic search for a beloved pet to the ordeal already caused by the wreck.

There are a number of types of restraints for dogs: Harnesses, safety barriers, crates or carriers are options for dog travel safety. They provide comfort as well. As one dog lover pointed out, she uses a dog booster seat to give a better view and add to her dog's enjoyment of the ride.

A simple Google search, such as “dog harness car safety,” will quickly show you a multitude of products to help you secure your dog.

So take the time and make the small investment to provide peace of mind for you and safe traveling for you, your pet, and others on the highway.

Announcement: Egerton Law is sponsoring a “Like Drive” for Ruff Love Rescue, a nonprofit run by volunteers who find homes for homeless dogs. The firm will donate $1 for each new follower they receive on the Egerton Law facebook page – up to $200! The drive continues through Sunday, April 8. To learn more about Ruff Love Rescue, visit their website at http://www.ruffloverescue.com/