dog vehicle safety

Vehicle Safety Tips to Keep Your Fur Friend from Injury

Focus on Pet Considered Distracted Driving

Your pet is one of your best friends. Heck, your pet is family. Of course you’re going to bring your pup for excursions, errands, and road trips. But when it comes down to driving with a pet in the car, few people understand the hazards that come with it. You’ve probably let your dog hang its head out of the window or tried to force your dog off your lap while you are driving. But did you ever consider that this is dangerous, and also considered distracted driving? Distracted driving doesn’t just mean texting, but is any activity that could divert your attention away from the road; and even just 2 seconds of distracted driving increases your risk of getting into an accident. A survey sponsored by AAA showed that although 29% of drivers polled admitted to being distracted by their pet on the road, 65% admit to engaging in at least one distracting pet activity. For example, this study showed that:

  • 52% pet their dog while driving
  • 17% let their dog to sit in their lap
  • 13% gave food or treats to their dog
  • 4% played with their dog

Although these activities may seem harmless at the time, these distractions are incredibly dangerous to yourself and your pet. At McMinn we have our own fur babies, and the pets of McMinn are greatly cherished. We love all fur friends and want to promote ways to keep them safe, because the victims of distracted driving accidents are not always human.

Dangers for Pets in the Car

A vehicle can be a dangerous place for anyone, but consider the dangers that come with an unsecured body. We know the importance of seat belts and that they reduce crash related deaths by 50%, so wouldn’t having an unrestrained pet in the car be a huge risk? This is not just a danger to your pet, but to yourself and the other passengers in the car. A 10 pound pet can generate 500 pounds of force in a 50 mph crash, and an 80 pound pet can generate 2,400 pounds in a 30 mph crash. Imagine if you had your children strapped in the back next to your unrestrained pet, and then you got into an accident. Not only would your pet be injured, but your children as well.

The front seat of the car is just as dangerous as the back next to your child. Safety features intended for humans are actually dangerous for many animals. If your pet is sitting in the front seat right beside you, and you get into an accident, the airbag system could prove fatal for your pet, just as it would for a child.

If you think unsecured in the car is bad, imagine putting your dog in the bed of a truck. It is estimated that around 100,000 dogs die every year because they were in the bed of a truck. Your dog could jump out of the vehicle or fly out on impact, causing a move severe accident which would likely be fatal to your pet. There is also the chance of debris from other vehicles hitting your animal, causing serious injury. This is also a problem if you let your pet hang its head out of the window, because there is a chance rocks or other objects could hit your pet.

Another safety issue comes after the accident. Even if you pet emerges from an accident unscathed, your pet could run out into the road and cause even more damage, either hurting itself or others on the road. This also could be an issue for those who respond to the accident, making their jobs more difficult. An unrestrained animal that just experienced a traumatic event could be skittish and irritable. Also, if your pet is already weary of strangers, the help of others could be even more of a problem.

Pet Vehicle Safety Tips

There are ways to take your pet on the road and still be safe. Here are some tips for taking your pet on the road and avoiding injury.

  1. Pet Seat Belts: For your pet, you will need to purchase specific pet seat belts, because human seat belts are dangerous for animals. Make sure you are fitting your pet for a seat belt that will fit securely, because a seat belt that doesn’t fit defeats the purpose. But some doggie seat belts are better than others, and it’s worth paying a little more to keep your pet secure. Subaru and the Center of Pet Safety (CPS) did a crash test on many different belts, and sleepypod’s Clickit Utility Dog Harness made the cut. For more information check out Subaru’s review here.
  2. Pet Crates: If you don’t own a travel crate, it is time for you to purchase one. One of the highest rated models is the 4pets ProLine Dog crates. Yes, it is a little pricey, but it has been crash tested and is proven to be a safe and secure option. If this model is a little over your budget, just make sure you choose one that is:
    • Well Ventilated
    • Spacious
    • Secure
  1. Closed or Cracked Window: While your pet is in the car, make sure you do not have the window rolled all the way down. If you window is rolled down and your pet is not securely fastened or crated, your pet could jump out while the car is moving, causing a fatal or severe injury. This only applies if you are driving. You should never leave your pet alone in a vehicle, especially in a warmer climate. Every year hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left alone in a hot car. Many think, oh it’s only 70 degrees, my dog will be fine. Well, did you know that in 70 degree weather, if you leave your dog in the car for an hour, the temperature will rise to 112 degrees? Cracking the window a little bit does not do much to curb the heat, so make sure you are taking your pet with you if you’ll be longer than 5 minutes.
  2. Updated ID Tags and Microchips: If you are on a lengthier road trip, make sure you have updated tags and microchips in the event that your dog runs away or you are unfortunately separated. This is more relevant if you don’t invest in any sort of animal restraint system, like a seat belt or crate. If you drive without your pet restrained, it is more likely that your pet could run out into traffic or away when you make a pit stop. Always plan for the worst and keep all tags updated.

If the idea of crating or restraining your pet for a long time is unappealing, considering leaving your pup behind. Check out our old post on ways to keep your fur friend safe when you’re away.

McMinn Promotes Pet Vehicle Safety

We want to keep all drivers and passengers safe, whether the passenger is canine or human. Make sure you are taking the necessary precautions when driving with your pet in the car, because having your pet unrestrained is not only a distraction, but a hazard. If you and your pet are injured in an accident, call us at 512-474-0222, use the live chat on our website, or email