How to Keep Your Pet Safe in Your Car

Posted in Car Accident on June 21, 2022

If your dog goes crazy with excitement before a car ride, you aren’t alone. Most dogs love riding in the car, and some cats are up for trips, too. When you’re driving around town on a nice day, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see a vehicle or two with their windows down and dogs peering out while basking in the sunshine and warm breeze.

And while your dog may love sticking his or her head out the window while you’re driving (and nearby drivers may enjoy it, too), it’s very dangerous for him or her, you, and your passengers. You wouldn’t let your kids ride unrestrained in your vehicle, and you should never let your dog do so, either.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t travel with your dog (or cat, if you’ve got an adventurous one). Instead of letting them ride wherever they want, keep these tips in mind to keep everyone, including your fluffy friend, safe in your vehicle.

Place Your Pet Inside a Pet Carrier

If your dog is small enough to comfortably fit inside a pet carrier, then that’s the best and safest place for them to ride in your vehicle. Pet carriers keep dogs safe if you need to slam on your brakes or are involved in an accident. It’s important to ensure that the carrier you use is large enough for your dog to turn around if needed, but small enough that they don’t easily slide around when you brake or turn.

Make Your Pet a Backseat Rider

Even a secured or crated pet shouldn’t be kept upfront with you while you drive. Although they may feel comforted by being close to you, riding upfront can be dangerous for animals and their owners. First, pets face risks from front seat airbags the same way that small children and pre-teens. Second, pets that ride upfront can be highly distracting to drivers, causing them to look away from the road and increasing their risk of accidents.

Install a Pet Barrier if You Have a Very Large Dog

Some dogs are simply too big for pet carriers. Some are even too large to fit inside crates that will fit inside most vehicles. If you have a large canine friend, install a pet barrier to keep your dog in the backseat or cargo area of your vehicle. The biggest risks that dogs pose to drivers is distracting them while they drive or even slamming into them during crashes. Pet barriers keep dogs away from occupants in both cases.

Keep Your Windows Rolled Up While Driving

It can be tempting to roll down your window and let your dog enjoy the sunshine and warm breeze, but dogs face a few risks when they ride with their faces or heads hanging out of a vehicle window. First, they run the risk of falling out. This can result in serious injuries or even death at high speeds. Second, they run the risk of striking their heads or bodies on nearby objects or other vehicles, especially when drivers are inattentive and drift out of their lanes.

Use a Dog Seat Belt

Seat belts save more lives than any other safety feature in vehicles. And thankfully, they aren’t just for humans! Dogs can also benefit from seat belts, which are designed to attach to their collars or harnesses. Dog seat belts are especially beneficial if your dog can’t fit in a crate or you don’t have a way to secure them in your vehicle’s cargo area with a pet barrier.

Don’t Leave Your Pet in a Hot Car

The interiors of vehicles can reach scorching and potentially fatal temperatures in a matter of minutes, even on relatively cool days and when parked in the shade. Children die as a result of being left in hot cars every year, and dogs and cats can suffer the same fate when they’re left behind. Leaving the windows cracked can help, but it’s still dangerous. Instead, take your dog inside or leave them at home if you’re running errands in places where dogs aren’t allowed.

Hurt by a Driver Distracted by Their Dog? We Can Help.

Many law enforcement and public safety agencies have declared distracted driving an epidemic that’s plaguing our nation’s roads. When many people think of distracted driving, they think of texting while driving or general smartphone usage. But there are many ways to be distracted behind the wheel, including pets that are allowed to roam freely inside their owners’ vehicles.

When injured victims contact us after crashes that weren’t their fault, we work hard to find out how the other drivers are liable for their injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Drivers who fail to restrain or secure their pets while driving may be considered liable for any damages they cause if their pets distract them and they cause a crash.

If you were injured by a driver who may have been distracted, we want to help. Contact the Nashville car accident lawyers at Matt Hardin Law today for a free consultation.