For safety, restrain pets in the back seat

TRAFFIC TALK

June 12, 2005|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I'M CONSTANTLY appalled at how horribly we treat our furry friends. Dogs may be our best friends, but I wonder if we're theirs. I see dogs hanging out of windows or sitting in drivers' laps, even as the vehicle is hurtling down the road at 70 mph. Dogs riding in the back of pickup trucks face even more danger - a careless swerve will send them to doggy heaven.

Pets belong in back seats and in made-for-pets restraining systems - for their safety and yours, too. You don't want Rover to soar through the front windshield if you stop short. And your air bag could be your dog's death sentence should he be in the front seat or in your lap when it deploys.

Hot weather kills, too. In fact, every year pets - mostly dogs - needlessly suffer cruel deaths because their owners leave them in hot cars. It's June, so leave your pets at home where they belong.

Sgt. Shawn Urbas, Anne Arundel County police spokesman, noted that some people think "it's OK" to crack the windows. "It's really not," he said. "It can get hot pretty fast."

In fact, on a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a shaded car is 90 degrees: hot but bearable. The inside of a vehicle parked in the sun on the same day, however, can reach 160 degrees in less than 15 minutes. Animals (and babies and children, too) can suffer heatstroke in the time it takes to run into a store for a gallon of milk.

If you see a dog left alone in a vehicle, take down the vehicle's color, model, make and license plate number and have the owner paged in the store if you think the animal isn't in too great distress. Or call Howard County police's nonemergency number, 410-313-2200. But if the animal is unconscious or obviously in distress, call 911, immediately - its life may depend on it.

If it is a child in a hot car, don't fool around. Call 911 immediately. Be prepared to give the dispatcher important information, including where you and the car are and the vehicle's color, model, make and license plate number.

Urbas said that although Maryland law allows leaving a child unattended in a vehicle as long as you can see the vehicle the entire time you're away from it, in this day and age, "the best practice is not to leave a child in a car.

"All it takes is a moment of someone standing beside a locked car - even if you're watching - for them to be able to jump in and zoom away with your child," he said.

School buses

Cynthia Wick offered what is probably the last word on school buses for this school year. "At least school buses in the U.S. have yellow lights, red lights and stop signs," she said. She noted that in England, school buses don't get special lights, nor do they get stop signs.

"There isn't a rule that traffic must stop when a school bus does. I would much rather have the situation as it is here, where it is widely known that traffic should stop than have drivers have no care in the world whether children are exiting a bus and perhaps attempting to cross a road," she said.

Construction work

Construction work continues on Interstate 70 westbound between exits 76 (Route 97) and 68 (Route 27) through the middle of this month, so expect nonrush, daytime lane closures.

On Route 32 in both directions between Route 144 and Route 99, expect construction-related nonrush daytime lane closures through July 25. On Route 100 westbound at Interstate 95, expect nonrush daytime lane closures for camera installation through Wednesday. On Route 175 eastbound at Thunder Hill Road and Tamar Drive, expect night lane closures through June 21 for resurfacing and maintenance. And on U.S. 29 northbound between Route 175 and Diamond Back Drive, expect night lane closures through the end of June for resurfacing work.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at TrafficTalk@comcast.net, send faxes to 410-715-2816 or mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 30 Corporate Center, 10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 820, Columbia 21044. Include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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