When most people think of driving distractions, some of the examples that come to mind are texting or grooming. Not too many consider how distracting traveling with dogs in the car can be. Although your four-legged companion may enjoy being a passenger in the car, the reality is that it’s better left at home.
Dangers of Driving with a Loose Dog in a Car
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that any diversion that lasts more than a couple of seconds increases the risk of an accident. So imagine the amount of time someone loses focus when traveling with dogs in the car. This is especially true if the dog becomes excited and starts moving around or barking.
A bigger dog might stand in the way of the back window or the rearview mirror, blocking visibility. It could jump into the driver’s lap unexpectedly, which may cause the person to lose control of steering. Sometimes when people travel with dogs in a car, especially puppies, they crawl around the vehicle. In an effort to be close to their masters, they will worm their way onto drivers’ laps and could even get onto the floor and obstruct use of the gas/brake pedals.
Taking just one hand off the steering wheel is risky. But motorists in Arvada often use their arms to brace dogs when braking suddenly. It’s also not uncommon for attention to go from the road to the dog — just to see what the dog is doing or to stop it from some type of action. These are just some of the reasons why traveling with a dog in a car is dangerous.
But there are other risks to consider. For instance, a loose dog has a greater chance of suffering serious or fatal injuries in the event of an accident. It’s also dangerous to allow a dog to sit in a driver’s lap. If the airbag deploys after a collision, not only is the driver without the protection it provides, but also the force of an airbag could kill a smaller dog.
When one travels with dogs in a car and an accident occurs, it can be even more dangerous. Dogs can impede first responder efforts. Because of injuries or fear, they may bite. They may even attack in an attempt to protect the driver. Also, the situation becomes more complicated and dangerous if the dog flees the car. It could then be at risk of getting struck by another vehicle.
If you must drive with a dog, there are ways to restrain it. A leash isn’t the most effective. Pet carriers and dog harnesses are better options.
How Driving Distracted with a Dog Could Affect an Insurance Claim
If injured in an accident with a loose dog in the vehicle, the insurance company may argue it was a contributing factor. The driver may have partial blame for the crash because of it. Of course, it’s also possible for the driver to be 100 percent at fault for the accident. When pursuing personal injury damages for a car accident in Colorado and driving with a loose dog in the car, the driver may not be immediately labeled “not guilty,” even for a rear-end accident. This is when a personal injury lawyer can help.
Distractions play a significant role in determining responsibility for an accident. It doesn’t matter the source of the diversion — anything that takes an individual’s mind, eyes or hands off the task of driving is a relevant factor.
If you suffered serious injuries in an accident, contact an attorney at D.J. Banovitz personal injury law. You can learn about legal options and your right to file a claim by filling out our contact form or by calling 303-300-5060.