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.