AAA says majority of survey respondents drive with unrestrained dogs

Survey of pet owners warns of distracted driving danger

July 19, 2011

The Towson-based AAA Mid-Atlantic says 56 percent of drivers responding to a national survey of pet owners said they have driven with their dog at least once a month in the past year — and more than half said they've had some physical contact with the dog while driving, either petting it, holding it on their lap or using their hands to keep it out of the front seat — or even taking the pet's photo.

In a statement on the survey, AAA said the results indicate "drivers not only love to bring Fido in the car, but often engage in risky behaviors when man's best friend is along for the ride."

Some of the survey findings include:

• Nearly 56 percent of respondents have driven with their dog at least once a month in the past year.

• 52 percent said they have pet their dog while driving.

• 23 percent have used their hands or arms to hold their dog in place while applying brakes.

• 19 percent have used their hands or arms to keep their dog from climbing into the front seat, removing at least one hand from the steering wheel.

• 18 percent said they reach into the back seat to interact with their dog.

• 17 percent said they allow their dog to sit in their lap or otherwise hold the dog.

• 13 percent said they give treats while driving.

• 3 percent have taken a photo of their dog while driving.

• And 18 percent said they also have children under the age of 13 who ride with them. Of those, seven in 10 have driven with a child and an unrestrained dog in the vehicle at the same time.

The survey was conducted by AAA and Kurgo, a manufacturer of pet travel products. It was conducted online, and included a sample of 1,000 dog owners who have driven with their dog in past 12 months. According to AAA, the study has a statistical error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

The upshot of the survey, said AAA officials, is that people should consider some kind of pet restraint while driving with animals. AAA has a booklet, "Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook" providing advice on transporting pets. (For details, go to

AAA saiddogs can be thrown with tremendous force in the event of an accident.

"An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure," said Christine Delise, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "An unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure."

The survey suggested that 83 percent of respondents acknowledge that an unrestrained dog in a moving car can be dangerous, but only 16 percent currently use a pet restraint, AAA said.

"Millions of Americans recognize thatdogs are wonderful companions and will bring their … furry friend along on road trips," said Delise. "However, drivers should use a pet restraint system every time their dog is in the vehicle."

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