Plymouth, MI Automotive Supplier Aims To Change Pet Travel Safety

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Last week, The Michigan Law Firm blog informed readers about The American Humane Society's tips for driving safely with pets in the vehicle. One of the tips was to belt or restrain animals so that they can't distract the driver.

While innovations in the field of human car safety are being produced seemingly every day, pet travel safety has been largely unstudied and is lacking data in the automotive industry. However, Johnson Controls in Plymouth, Michigan tells The Detroit Free Press that they are aiming to change the way drivers travel with their pets. The company has brainstormed ideas on how to engineer seats and devices that can protect pets and their owners while riding in a vehicle. 

Pet Safety Laws

Pet vehicle safety lacks guidelines and regulations since the government has yet to pass any into law. This is very concerning to the 53% of dog owners who have traveled with their pet, at least once a month, over the past year, according to a study conducted by Kurgo.   

“Cars are developed for people; they aren't developed for dogs," said Lindsey Wolko, the chairman of the Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Virginia. "We have to get to the point we can have solutions that work for both. Dogs are the number 1 traveling companion, and they have little protection in the marketplace."

Pet Travel Statistics

The American Humane Society (AHS) estimates that around 100,000 dogs die in car accidents each year due to riding in truck beds. This estimate doesn’t include dogs that have jumped from vehicle windows or those that were improperly restrained - if at all - during a car collision. The number is hard to determine when most accidents involving a pet's death are rarely reported. Sadly, there are even fewer statistics and data available concerning cats and their safety and fatality rate involving car accidents.

An article in USA Today highlighted the chilling facts that most dog restraints fail. So, it comes as no surprise that a whopping 84% of dog owners do not use restraints when traveling with their dog.

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Not only do most pet owners not bother with restraints, but Kurgo’s survey lists that 65% of drivers admitted to engaging in at least one distracted activity while they were driving with their pet, such as feeding them treats, trying to take a picture of the animal, or tying to pet the animal. Any of these distracted driving behaviors are serious issues when considering that a driver traveling with their pet could get into an automobile accident. Pets can be a major safety risk due since they can cause distractions leading to car accidents and since they can easily be tossed out a car and killed instantly in an accident, thereby possibly distracting other drivers on the road and causing them to get hurt too.

The Future of Pet Travel Safety

For now, Johnson Controls is still conducting their research by using pets volunteered by their employees, and observing the way pets enter and exit a vehicle and watching how they move around inside the vehicle.  

“We want to understand the future of pet travel safety — and what it should look like," Wolko said. "Because of the work Johnson Controls has done with seating development in automobiles, this could lead to a whole new world of pet safety."

Wolko has pointed out the importance of supplying proper animal safety restraining devices for those motorists who travel with their pets. If pets don't have proper restraints while on the road, their owners are leaving themselves, their pets, and innocent bystanders at risk of getting into a serious auto accident. Hopefully, the public won't have to wait long for Wolko to invent or improve on restraining devices used to secure pets in vehicles. Have you or a loved one been involved in a motor vehicle collision involving a pet? Call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844. 4MI.FIRM for a free consultation today. 

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?

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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.