Face it, everyone loves their pets. And they often want to take their pets wherever they’re going. In fact, a recent survey by Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll found that 39% of pet owners would rather go on a road trip with their dog than a family member.
However, many pet owners worry about pet safety in a vehicle. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said that people don’t take vehicular pet safety seriously. Furthermore, nearly a third of dog owners reported leaving their furry friend home due to concerns about road safety.
These concerns aren’t unwarranted. The survey also examined driver behavior when pets were unrestrained in a vehicle and discovered eye-opening results.
The amount of unsafe driving behaviors more than doubled when dogs were unrestrained in a car compared to when they were restrained in a harness or cage. Allowing dogs to roam free led to frantic movements that distracted the driver, and dogs’ heart rates spiked 7 beats per minute faster while riding unrestrained.
What can you do to keep your pet safer while driving? Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, a veterinary specialist at Cornell University, shares some common but unsafe practices that pet owners should avoid.
1. Don’t drive with your pet in the front seat
In the event of a collision, your pet can be thrown into the windshield, even if restrained. Unless the passenger side airbag is disengaged, airbag deployment alone can be very dangerous to a small pet.
2. Never drive with a pet on your lap
In addition to distracting the driver, a pet can get caught under the steering wheel and cause an accident or projected forward into the windshield in the event of a collision. Additionally, the pet is positioned between the airbag and the driver, which is dangerous to both the driver and the pet.
3. Never drive with an unrestrained pet in the vehicle
Beyond the animal being a serious distraction, an abrupt stop can cause a pet to fall quickly, causing soft tissue injury or worse. In the event of an accident, a pet could jump from the vehicle and run into moving traffic.
4. Never allow your pet to lean out of a car window
While it may look like dogs are enjoying the rush of the wind in their fur, debris can be forced into their eyes and cause abrasions or punctures to their cornea, which could result in serious injury or blindness.
5. Never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle
You may be tempted to leave your pet in the car for a short errand, but it can be stressful and even life-threatening for the pet. Even in cooler months, you should never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle, no matter how short a period, to avoid hypothermia or heat stroke.
How can you keep your dog safely in your vehicle? Volvo Cars is the leading vehicle manufacturer in developing safety accessories for pets that directly tie into the safety system of the car. These accessories include a flexible Dog Harness, a Load Compartment Divider for the rear hatchback, a Protective Steel Grille to keep an animal from jumping from the back to the front of the car and a Dog Gate that allows you to create one or two separate dog compartments.
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