Driving with pets increases accident risk, according to a study conducted by the University of Alabama-Birmingham. Elderly drivers were found to be the most likely distracted by pets while driving.
Gerald McGwin, of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, points out that this is the first study exploring accident rates among elderly drivers traveling with pets.
As reported by NBC News, drivers over the age of 70, traveling with a pet in the car, double their risk of an accident. People who travel with their pets can easily become distracted, which may be dangerous or fatal.
Statistically, 10 percent of traffic accidents are caused by distracted drivers. Awareness about cell phone usage while driving has been highlighted in recent years. However, driving with pets can be equally distracting and dangerous.
The new study suggests that elderly drivers are at even more risk, as they may have slower response times.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that looking away from the road for more than two seconds is too long. Pet owners in McGwin’s study were likely to travel with their pets, often in the front passenger seat.
Even worse, numerous participants admitted that their pets were unrestrained, allowing them to roam throughout the vehicle.
Hawaii is currently the only state in the US that specifically bans driving while holding a pet.
The ASPCA recommends several precautions when driving with pets. They suggest that pets should always be secured in a moving vehicle. Carriers or crates that are well-ventilated, and the proper size, ensure the safety of the pet and driver. The carrier or crate should be tied down or secured to prevent tipping or falling over.
Additionally, the ASPCA warns drivers about leaving pets inside parked cars. In the warmer months, pets can suffer a heatstroke. In the winter, pets locked inside cars may freeze to death.
While driving with pets can increase accident risk, there are measures that can decrease the chances of distraction. It is nice having a companion along for the ride, but the safety of the driver and the pet need to be an important consideration.
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