Do you take your dog with you when you drive? Does your dog ride unrestrained in the backseat or even on your lap? A dog in a car is like a child riding in a car without being strapped into their car seat. The level of distraction is high, and many dog owners have their attention pulled away from the road, causing Michigan car accidents that may result in a lawsuit.
Several States Buckling Down on Distracted (Dog) Driving
Insurance industry studies have found that motorists who have their dogs in the car tend to drive in a distracted manner. In fact, AAA revealed that nearly one-third of drivers admit to being distracted by their pet while driving.
If you’re paying so much attention to your pooch that you can’t remember passing the last few miles or you miss your turn or exit, that’s a serious problem. And it’s a situation that is unlikely to end well.
Some states have taken measures to inflict fines on drivers who operate cars with unrestrained dogs. In New Jersey, restraints or a pet crate are required. Drivers who are seen with a pet on their lap in Arizona, Connecticut, or Maine can be charged with distracted driving. In Hawaii, there is a flat-out ban forbidding pets from being on the driver’s lap. In Michigan, the only restrictions on dog transportation are related to securely caging wolf-dog hybrids.
Distraction, Times Two
Not only does having a pet on your lap or nearby in the car distract drivers, it can also lead to an obstructed view and impact a driver’s ability to operate their car properly. Would you regularly drive with a blocked front windshield or compromised rearview mirrors? It would be challenging to successfully and safely operate a vehicle with these sorts of restrictions.
Complicating matters is double distracted driving – being distracted by your pet, and being distracted by your mobile device. This combo can be lethal for you, your pet, and other motorists. Exposing yourself to greater risk of being in a Michigan auto accident because of the distraction of your pet or a text message is just poor common sense.
Make Smart Driving Decisions – for You and Your Pet
You may feel like your pet is safer in your arms than anywhere else in the car, but you’re far more dangerous a driver when your hands are otherwise occupied by your pet rather than staying put – on the wheel.
If you care so much about your four-legged friend, you would be wise to acknowledge that you’re putting his own health and safety at risk by not restraining him properly in a vehicle, by letting him ride in the bed of your truck, or giving him the opportunity to jump out of an open car window or distract you.
Should you be involved in an auto accident, anything could happen to your dog when he or she is unrestrained. If your pet emerges from a car crash unscathed physically, they may be shaken up emotionally. This kind of reaction could lead to uncharacteristic bad behavior on the part of your pet – but you’ll be liable for damages should your pet attack another person or destroy property in their moment of hysteria.
If you were hurt in an auto accident involving a driver who was distracted by an unrestrained dog, contact Michigan personal injury attorney David Femminineo to discuss your case.