Millions of people in New York and around the country drive their canine companions to dog parks or veterinary clinics every day, but few of them bother with an animal restraint system. Dogs are unpredictable creatures that often react with enthusiasm to things they see from moving vehicles, which can distract drivers and cause accidents. More than half of the dog owners polled by the American Automobile Association said they take their animal companions with them on road trips, but only 16% of them said they restrain their dogs before setting off.
Pet restraint systems
Pet restraint systems work with a car’s seat belts to keep dogs of all sizes from moving around. This both prevents driver distraction and protects pets if the car they are traveling in is involved in an accident. Smaller dogs may be more comfortable if they are transported inside pet crates that are specially designed for motor vehicles. A third option for SUV or minivan owners is a barrier that stops pets from reaching the front seats.
Unrestrained dogs cause accidents
An accident caused by a driver distracted by an unrestrained dog attracted a great deal of media attention in June 1999. The bestselling author Stephen King was struck by a minivan as he walked near his Maine home. The minivan’s driver became distracted when his Rottweiler started rummaging in a cooler. After being struck, King flew off the minivan’s hood and landed in a ditch 14 feet away. He suffered a broken leg, shattered knee, fractured hip and four cracked ribs.
Police officers are trained to look for pet containers or restraints and signs of distracted driving when the vehicles involved in traffic accidents were transporting dogs. When representing road users injured in such accidents, experienced personal injury attorneys may gather evidence of distraction by checking police reports and using subpoenas to obtain wireless service records.