Is your driving going to the dogs?

There are approximately 77.5 million pet dogs in the U.S., and some of them are driving their owners to distraction … literally. In terms of distractions that interfere with driving, dogs are right up there with cell phones and texting. According to a recent survey on habits of dog owners and driving conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and pet product company Kurgo, 80% of the respondents said they’ve taken their pets on errands, day trips or vacations, yet only 17% said they use any form of restraint system. In fact, 21% admitted that they have let their dog to sit on their lap.
Survey respondents admitted to other potentially distracting behaviors, like patting (55%), feeding (7%) or playing with their dog (5%) while driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash. In 2008, there were 6,000 fatalities due to accidents caused by distracted drivers, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In addition to being a potential risk for accidents, driving with unrestrained pets is also very dangerous for the pet.

“Restraining your pet when driving can not only help protect your pet, but you and other passengers in your vehicle as well,” cautioned Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA National, Traffic Safety Programs manager. “An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path.”

On the CBS News Early Show, Veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell shared some easy ways drivers with pets can prevent some of these dangers. You can read her dog restraint safety tips or check out the video below.

Consumer Reports: best cars for teens and seniors

If you’re planning to buy a new car for your college-bound student, your first thought might be to shuffle the vehicle deck to give them grandma’s car or your car, and then purchase a replacement. But experts say you might want to think twice about a strategy like that. Newer cars have all the latest safety features, a very important consideration four younger, less experienced drivers.
Before making any decisions, you might want to check with recent recommendations from Consumer Reports. On their Car Blog, they feature a video and a post talking about considerations when buying cars for teens and seniors. They offer their recent picks for the best car options in various classes for each population. Also see their picks for Small drivers and Tall drivers).
In their post, they make some other important points about teen drivers:

Many states have graduated licensing programs that progress teens through a series of steps to achieve the full freedom of driving, by restricting driving hours, passengers, and cell-phone usage. Even if your state doesn’t have such a program in place, you can implement one at home. Studies have shown that there are biological risk factors that diminish as your teen becomes a young adult, signaling immaturity as a significant concern. Limiting risks when the teen is 16 and even 17 years old can increase the chances of responsible, accident-free driving.

They also cite a prior post about teen defensive driving schools. This is a great idea to help your teen learn how to practice and prepare for emergency situations. Plus, it may help you to save money. Ask your insurance agent about any available auto insurance credits, such as Good Student, Advanced Driver Training, or Motor Club Credits.