New Jersey officials from the Motor Vehicle Commission teamed up with the SPCA to announce a new ticket initiative this week regarding animals and safety belts. Under the new rule drivers can be cited for failing to properly secure their pets.
Drivers under the “click it or ticket” for pets clause will now be faced with fines ranging from $250 to $1000 per incident and they could face up to six months in jail if their actions are repeated or dangerous to other drivers around them.
Under the new law pets can not hang out the windows, ride in the back of a truck or curl up on a driver’s lap as they drive.
Animals in vehicles have become a hotly contested issue as many state lawmakers consider them to be as much of a distraction to some drivers as text messaging. Not only can an animal cause a driver to crash, if they jump out windows they can cause sudden stops and further accidents for other drivers on the road.
With 25 to 33% of all accidents in the United States being attributed to “distracted driving” it is likely that other states will follow New Jersey’s lead and enact similar laws in the future.
In a study by AAA conducted in 2010 upwards of 20 percent of people said they drive with unsecured pets in their vehicles and 31 percent of those people said it did in fact distract them while driving.
Authorities suggest that dogs be restrained with harnesses that attach to a seat belt buckle while cats should be placed in a buckled down pet carrier.
Other states with pet driving laws on the books include Arizona, Connecticut and Maine.