Robert Adelman and Mary Ann Connors are no longer partners of, or affiliated with, this firm.

Pets as Passengers: Should You or Shouldn’t You?


Many of us consider our pets as part of the family, so it makes sense to want to take them everywhere.  But, you are not doing your pet (or yourself!) any favors by offering up the passenger seat. Any unrestrained object can create a driving hazard, and pets are no exception. Dogs may be a man’s best friend, but dogs are not necessarily a driver’s best friend. 

Once becoming aware of the dangers of unrestrained pets, owners of such pets are three times as likely to use a pet restraint system in the car. Read on to learn more.

What are the Dangers of Driving With an Unrestrained Pet?

Thousands of car accidents are caused annually by unrestrained pets. Dogs that are unrestricted in a vehicle can lead to several very dangerous situations:

  1. A survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA) revealed that 65% of drivers admit to being distracted by their pet while driving. Distracted Driving includes any distraction that compromises the attention of the driver. Taking your hands off the wheel to pet your dog is a form of distraction. 
  2. In the unfortunate event of a crash, unrestrained animals can become dangerous projectiles due to the force of the crash.  This will likely result in injury to animals and humans. Also, a pet situated in the front seat could be seriously injured or killed by a deployed airbag.
  3. After a crash, an unrestrained dog could escape the vehicle. This puts the animal at risk of either being struck by another vehicle or causing another crash as other drivers swerve to avoid the animal. 
  4. Dogs have been known to aggressively defend their owners after crashes, preventing emergency responders from treating injuries.

How can I Travel With My Pet and be Safe?

Be sure to properly restrain your pet whenever you take it/them for a ride. Fortunately, there are some very good options for properly restraining your pet:

  • A Seat Belt Harness System
    • There are many types of seat belt harnesses you can purchase for your pet that can be attached to your vehicle’s seatbelts. 
  • Safety Barriers
    • These are installed in your vehicle to keep your pet from getting in the way of your ability to drive and will prevent the animal from becoming a projectile in the event of a collision.
  • Pet Carriers
    • Another option for safeguarding you and your pet while driving is a properly sized and secured pet carrier with good ventilation and extra space to allow your pet to move around.

Does Connecticut Require Dogs to Be Harnessed in the Car?

Although Connecticut law does not explicitly bar people from allowing dogs or other animals to sit on their laps while driving a motor vehicle, it does prohibit people from engaging in any activity in a motor vehicle that interferes with its safe operation.

Pets as Passengers: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

It is recommended that you never travel with an unrestrained pet as a passenger. Keep them harnessed or restrained to keep both of you safe. Only you can help lower the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident by taking the necessary precautions to avoid distracted driving. 

Contact A Personal Injury Attorney In Connecticut

If you have been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, the personal injury attorneys at Hirsch Andrade will work to get you the full compensation you deserve. Call us at (203) 331-8888 or visit Hirsch Andrade online to schedule a free consultation.

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