Motorists are increasingly taking their dogs along with them when they drive. Many dog owners allow their pets to sit in their laps and even give their attention to their pet instead of the car in front of them. Motorists’ dogs are causing them to drive in a distracted manner, according to studies by the insurance industry. This is becoming such a worrisome trend that some states are taking measures to subject drivers who operate motor vehicles with their pets unrestrained to fines and other punitive measures for not buckling Fido up properly.
According to recent research conducted by AAA, nearly 1/3 of drivers admitted to being distracted by their pets while driving. Several media outlets have confirmed this trend. For instance, ABC News recently reported recent efforts to states outlawing driving with a pet in a driver’s lap. In New Jersey, motorists are required to use restraints specifically designed for pets or ensure pets are safely stowed in a pet crate and motorists can be pulled over if a police officer suspects a pet is not properly restrained. In Arizona, Connecticut and Maine, drivers who are observed driving with pets in their laps can be charged with distracted driving. Hawaii law contains an outright ban which strictly forbids individuals from holding a pet in their lap while driving.
Driving with a pet exposes one to an increased risk of getting involved in a car accident. This is particularly true if the pet owner drives with the pet unrestrained. Studies have shown that although most pet owners know it is safer for both them and their pets to drive with their pets restrained, fewer than 20% of pet owners use restraints when driving with their pet in the car. In an unfamiliar situation, a confused, scared and unrestrained pet can also bite other drivers or first responders in the event of a crash or fender bender, potentially making the pet owner liable for damages to anyone the pet bites.
An unrestrained pet can jump out a vehicle window and cause a multi-car pileup. Even worse, an unrestrained pet essentially becomes a projectile if the pet owner is forced to hit his or her brakes suddenly and the momentum of the pet can hurt other occupants of the car as well as cause damage to the interior of the car itself. Indeed, the higher the speed or the heavier the dog, the worse the impact would be for them, for you, or for your passengers. For instance, a 10-pound dog that’s not restrained can generate 500 pounds of force in a 50-mph crash.
If you were hurt in an accident involving a driver who was driving with an unrestrained dog, contact the attorneys with Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. right away. Many personal injury or wrongful death case go to court involving the types of accidents that can be caused when a pet runs into the road, and you’ll want an experienced attorney by your side when negotiating with the pet owner’s insurance company.
Our car accident attorneys serve clients throughout the Chicago area, including Aurora, Elgin, Hinsdale, Joliet, Naperville, and Waukegan. Call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900