You’re cruising down the road with Fido next to you, his head out the window and his tongue joyfully flapping in the breeze. Sounds cute, right? But the reality is that this scenario could be a disaster waiting to happen. Cruising around with your pet might even affect your car insurance rate. Let’s find out more.

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AAA Study

AAA and pet travel product maker, Kurgo, performed a survey of dog owners about their pet related driving habits. Here’s some of their findings:

  • Nearly 60% of dog owners drive with their pet in the car at least once a month
  • Twenty-nine percent admit to having been distracted by their pet
  • Almost 1 in 5 respondents have taken their hands off the steering wheel to manage their dog
  • When braking, 23% have used their hands or arms to hold their dog in place

Some drivers pet their dogs, feed them, reach out to stop them from moving around, and ride with the dog in their laps. Some even admit to playing with them or taking photos of their pooch while driving. But even a 1-2 second distraction can lead to a serious accident. Statistics show that unrestrained pets cause up to 30,000 crashes every year.

Lack Of Restraint Use

The AAA survey found that only 16% of dog owners use a pet restraint while taking their animal for a ride. Most say that their dog is calm enough to not need a restraint (42%) or they never considered it (39%).

Real Danger

These kinds of practices might be common among pet owners, but they are also very dangerous. Think about what else the report highlights, such as:

  • An unrestrained 10-pound animal in a crash at 50 mph will exert about 500 pounds of force.
  • An unrestrained 80-pound dog in a accident at 30 mph will exert nearly 2400 pounds of force.

If you drive with kids in the car, an accident with an unrestrained animal could be deadly. In fact, nearly one in five who drive with pets in the car also have children under age 13. Plus, like small children, an airbag could seriously harm a dog riding in the front seat.

Car Insurance Rates And Pets

Your car insurance company isn’t going to spy on you to see if you drive with unrestrained pet passengers. However, every time you get into an accident, it affects your insurance rates. Your main worry though, should be safety.

Resources For Pet Owners

If you have a pet, and like to take it along with you for car rides, then be safe. Here are some resources that have info about restraint systems for car-riding animals.

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Published in CARCHEX Auto Insurance Resources by CARCHEX on October 16, 2015