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Take Your Dog And Cat: New Study On Road Trip Safety When Traveling With Pets

Traveling with your pet/pets this holiday season, please check out these safety tips!

"You can take road trips with your pets, but be aware: A new study from Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll revealed that allowing them to roam unrestrained while driving led to significantly more unsafe driving behaviors, more time distracted and increased stress on both drivers and their four-legged friends.

The report also built on last year’s inaugural report in exploring the unique relationship between Americans, their pets and their cars. These findings include:

- Half of millennials would rather go on a road trip with their dog than their family (vs. 39% of all respondents)

-  4 in 10 millennials choose a weekend getaway with their dog than their partner (vs. 28% of pet owners overall)

Today In: Lifestyle

-  32% of pet owners have left a dog at home because they felt their car was not safe enough

-  77% of Americans say people don’t take vehicular dog safety seriously enough

While pets are now ingrained as essential members of the family, many pet owners aren’t keeping their safety in mind when driving with them. Volvo Reports: Keeping Pets Safe on the Road is highlighted by a unique observational study on how pet restraints affect the driving experience.

The report followed 15 drivers and their dogs for more than 30 hours on the road, to examine how driving with an unrestrained pet affected driving behavior vs. when an owner used restraints (e.g. pet seat belts, harnesses, crates, carriers).

With pets allowed to roam freely:

Unsafe driving behaviors more than doubled

-  649 instances while unrestrained vs. 274 while restrained

-  Includes climbing on a driver’s lap or hanging their head out the window

Time drivers were distracted more than doubled

-  3 hr. 39 min. unrestrained vs. 1 hr. 39 min. restrained

-  Includes dogs jumping from seat to seat or taking drivers’ eyes off the road

Stress on both drivers and pups increased

-  Heart rates were likely to increase for people and pets

-  Unrestrained dogs measured a heart rate 7 beats per minute faster

-  Drivers felt calmer when dogs were buckled in, with heart rates dropping as much as 28 and 34 beats per minute

The study further illustrates the dangers to all passengers, human and canine, when drivers do not restrain their dogs. This is echoed by veterinarian Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, an expert in emergency and critical care of animals.

“While pets roaming around the car can be cute and convenient, it poses serious risk for both drivers and their pets, both in terms of causing distractions and increasing the chances of serious injury in the event of an accident,” said Dr. Mazzaferro.

“Unfortunately, in my field, we see the potential devastating consequences regularly, many of which can avoided by simply ensuring our animals are safely secured.”

Her tips:

1.    Don't drive with your pet in the front seat. In the event of a collision, a dog/cat can be thrown from the seat into the windshield, even if restrained. Unless the passenger side airbag is disengaged, the airbag deployment can be dangerous to a small pet.

2.    Never drive with your pet on your lap. It is not only a serious distraction to driving, but the pet can get caught under the steering wheel and cause an accident or can be projected forward in the event of a collision. 

3.    Never drive with your pet unrestrained. In addition to being a distraction, an abrupt stop can cause the pet to fall quickly and cause soft tissue injury or worse. In the event of an accident, pets can jump from the vehicle and go into moving traffic and become hit by other vehicles or get lost in an unfamiliar area

4.    Never allow your pet to lean out of a car window. Debris can be forced into their eyes and cause abrasions or punctures to the cornea/eye, which could result in blindness.

5.    Never leave your dog unattended in a vehicle. Depending on the breed, level of anxiety, and ambient temperature, some people may be tempted to keep their pet in the car while running a short errand. Even in cooler months, never leave your dog unattended in your vehicle, no matter how short a period of time, to avoid extreme temperatures and hyperthermia/heat stroke. 

Cars such as Volvo are developing safety accessories for pets that directly tie into the safety system of the car, including a Dog Harness, Load Compartment Divider, Dog Gate and Protective Steel Grille."

NOTE:  Our blog articles are intended to provide helpful insights and information for your consideration.  They clearly identify original sources for their content, including links.


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