Pet Passenger Safety

It’s not uncommon to see people traveling with their pets whether they are going to and from a friend's house for a pet play date, traveling on vacation, or even just running errands. While it's common to see dogs hanging their heads out of car windows, just how safe is it to have a pet in a moving vehicle?

Dog Car Accident Lawyer

The Dangers of Traveling With Pets

According to Kurgo, a leading supplier in dog traveling products, only 16% of dog owners who drive with their pets actually restrain them inside the vehicle. Letting pets roam free is not only dangerous for man's furry little friend, but for the driver too. Cuteness aside, pets can serve as a huge distraction to the driver by barking, seeking attention for pets, or climbing all over the vehicle. These distractions can cause the driver to become more concerned about attending to their pet rather keeping their eyes on the road. 

Pet Safety Precautions

The American Humane Society (AHS) recommends that when traveling with animals, it is best for pets to travel in a carrier that has been secured to the vehicle by a seat belt or by other secure means. There are even custom or specifically engineered dog restraints and belts that drivers can purchase to keep pets still in the vehicle, which in turn prevents them from causing distractions to the driver. 

Another precaution to take when driving with a pet is to stop them from sticking their heads out of the window. This can lead to the pet becoming sick, accidentally being blinded by debris, or getting it's head stuck or caught in the window, which not only hurts them but requires the driver to take their eyes off the road to help the animal. There is also the possibility that unsecured pets, especially those small in size, could jump or fall out of the window. Not only would a dog ejected from a window cause the driver to immediately stop possibly leading to the driver being rear-ended, but a dog in the middle of traffic could cause endless commotion to other motorists, many more potential accidents, and even the dog's death.

In the case of such an accident or in the event that the pet is experiencing a Marley & Me moment, pets should always wear their ID collar so that they can be properly identified and/or tracked. Finally, The AHS would suggest taking frequent rest stops so that pets can walk off excessive energy and go to the bathroom.  

Source: GIPHY, Marley & Me

Source: GIPHY, Marley & Me

Pet-Safe Vehicles

For those who really love to travel with their pets, the safest way to transport them is to use a roomy vehicle. According to Autotrader, a minivan or crossover SUV would be best suited for pet travel. These types of vehicles provide more room for crates and allow pets to have enough space be comfortably move around but not enough that they distract the driver.

Drivers who travel with their pet should also look for vehicles with rear climate control, a containment barrier to keep the front seat a designated human area, and a rear lift-gate to make getting animals in and out of the vehicle easier. 

Autotrader’s 2016 Pet-Friendly Vehicles Include:

  • Volkswagen Tiguan 
  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Volvo XC90

Pets are a cherished addition to any family and as such, their humans should take their safety just as seriously. Since most pets are the size of children, not restraining them when vehicles are in motion may result in serious injury or even death, in the event of a motor vehicle accident. While accidents are sometimes unavoidable, by following these tips, hopefully people will be better able to protect their pets while traveling. 


Pet owners should be prepared to take the necessary precautions to protect their pet because accidents can happen in a blink of an eye. If you or someone you know has been injured in a collision due to a pet’s distraction, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys know how much pets mean to their humans but also how dangerous they can be when let loose in a moving vehicle. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation.