The dangers of driving with your dog unrestrained are numerous and hardly hypothetical.
In the United States alone, thousands of deaths of dogs, drivers and passengers are attributed to unrestrained dogs each year, in addition to what must be an unimaginable number of accidents with injuries and fender benders.
Even a low-speed crash may turn an unrestrained dog into a missile, possibly ejecting the animal out through the windshield or side window or injuring passenger or driver, resulting in further loss of control of the vehicle. The Automobile Association of America estimates that a 10-pound dog will exert approximately 500 pounds of pressure in a 50 mile per hour crash, and an 80 pound dog 2,400 pounds in a crash at 30 miles per hour.
If a dog survives the impact, he will likely be injured and frightened, and flee the scene, risking being struck by another vehicle or becoming lost. A small dog on the lap of the driver in a crash is at risk of being crushed between the air bag and the driver.
According to AAA, more than 30,000 accidents a year are caused by dogs riding in the front seat of a vehicle. As surprising as this number is, it is only dog owners insured by AAA.
What you can do
- Buy a well-fitted harness/car safety belt product and use it every time your dog is in the car. Or put your dog in a well secured crate in the car.
- No small dogs on your lap while you drive. No exceptions!
- Make sure your dog always has ID tags with your current contact information on them. It’s best if there is more than one contact person/ number on the tag
I will admit, that I do not always buckle Karma into a seat belt. I do however always leave her leash on when she is in the car. I have a hammock that fits between the front and back seat which keeps her from being thrown to the front seat. I always leave the leash on in case of an accident, so she wouldn’t be able to run away as easily. When Karma is in the car with me, I drive much slower and more carefully than when she is not.