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Are pets in vehicles a danger to driving?

When you think of animals causing car accidents, you may think of an animal running into the roadway and a person swerving to avoid it and crashing. While this type of scenario could certainly cause a serious crash, it is not only animals outside of vehicles that could contribute to accidents.

Do you travel with your pet? If you answer yes, you are among a group of numerous drivers in Georgia and across the country who do. Many people would never dream of leaving a dog behind while they went on vacation or even for a short trip to run an errand. While loading up a pup in the car and spending quality time together can certainly be a good thing, it is important to remember that dogs can be distracting when inside a vehicle.

How do dogs cause distractions?

You may not think of your pet as a distraction because you love it so much, but when you are driving, any of the following activities could distract you from focusing on the road:

  • Playing with your dog
  • Petting your dog
  • Feeding your dog or giving it treats
  • Allowing the dog to roam around your vehicle
  • Allowing your dog to sit in your lap while you drive

Many people think it is easy to pet a dog and drive at the same time, but this action would result in a driver taking at least one hand off the wheel, which is a manual distraction, and possibly looking at the dog while petting it, which is a visual distraction. Even a momentary distraction could cause a driver to not see an upcoming hazard or to otherwise not properly operate the vehicle. As a result, a crash could easily occur.

Can distraction be prevented?

Like most distractions, drivers can work to prevent themselves from succumbing to this distraction by not allowing a dog inside the vehicle, by properly restraining it or containing it to a particular area of the vehicle. A restraint could add protections to the pet as well in the event of a crash.

Unfortunately, you may have come across a driver who did not properly restrain his or her pet or otherwise allowed the pet to distract him or her while driving. If so, that person may have caused a crash that left you with serious injuries. In this type of case, you may have reason to seek compensation from the driver considered at fault for damages permitted under state law.

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