Car Seats Aren’t Just for Children

posted July 15th, 2008 by
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 Story by Marilyn King

If you don’t have a car seat or safety harness for your traveling pet, you may want to consider the risks to yourself, your pet, and the other drivers on the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about six million auto accidents occur each year in the US, with half of those causing injuries. This means that every 10 seconds a car accident results in an injured victim. Now take into account that 84% of pet owners travel with their pet in automobiles.1 These statistics lead one to ask whether traveling pet owners are dangerously distracted by their pets, and whether they are even considering the pet’s safety.         

An unrestrained pet can become a deadly projectile in the event of a sudden stop or crash, causing serious injury (or even death) to passengers or the pet. For example, an unsecured, 25-pound dog in a 40 mph crash becomes a 1,000-pound mass (half a ton) flying uncontrollably inside the vehicle.

If you are not convinced that driving with a pet on your lap is dangerous, then it may surprise you to learn that doing so is illegal in Tulsa and most other US cities. Tulsa City ordinance Title 37 § 1203 states “No person shall operate a vehicle while holding a person, child or animal on his lap” and offenders can face a fine of up to $250.00.  Additionally, in Tulsa a driver cannot legally transport any animal in the bed of a pickup truck unless the animal is tethered or confined within a secured crate or cage designed for the transport of live animals.  

The solution is to safely secure your pet while traveling.  Dogs should be restrained with either a seatbelt or harness designed for pet travel. Increasing in popularity for smaller dogs are a stylish assortment of pet car seats, which allow them to see out while being properly restrained. Also, never attach a restraining device to your pet’s collar, as this can cause severe injuries to your pet should you have to make a sudden stop. Instead, always use a harness to prevent such injuries. Cats should be kept in a crate, cage or pet car seat as well. A driver should never allow a pet to roam freely in the car, because it could easily get tangled around the driver’s feet or block the driver’s view of the road. Another danger is allowing your pet to ride with his head outside of the window. This could cause injury or death to your pet if you drive too close to an object, striking your pet’s head.  Another concern with your pet sticking his head out the window is dirt particles getting into his ears, nose, eyes, or throat, causing health problems.  Having your pet safely secured in a car seat or safety harness will greatly lessen all of these issues and may even save your life, your pet’s life, and others sharing the roadway. 

1 Source: American Pet Product Manufacturers Association (APPMA) 2006 National Pet Owner Survey

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