How often do you take your pet on a trip? Do you take your four-legged friend on family vacations, do they come with you to the store, or do you leave them at home whenever possible?
According to a study conducted by AAA, 84% of their respondents expressed that they take their pets on car trips. Only 16% use pet restraints, like cages, while driving with their pets.
Leaving pets unrestrained while driving can be a serious hazard for yourself, your pets, and for other drivers on the road. Not only can they distract you from the road, but it could lead to personal injuries for you, your passengers, or your pet if you get in an accident. There are multiple ways that you can keep yourself and your pets safe during car rides.
Keeping Yourself Safe While Driving With a Pet
When deciding to bring your pet along for a car ride, there are some important precautions you should take.
Letting your favorite pet roam the vehicle might be fun, but it can also prove dangerous for you and them. That’s why it’s important to invest in the right restraints for them during car rides.
Be sure to restrain your pet in the back seats of the car. The airbags in the front can be harmful for animals, so it’s best to keep them in a wider area of the vehicle. It’s recommended that you avoid using plastic or flimsy cages. In the event of a crash these weaker cages will not protect your pet and can cause more harm in the long run.
It’s best to invest in animal specific safety belts and pods. They should help absorb the shock and damages from a crash while also being comfortable for the pet, especially if they get anxious during car rides.
Treat Your Pet Like a Passenger
If dogs are man’s best friend, we need to treat them as such. That’s why it’s important to give them the same treatment you would give a passenger in your car.
Before going on a long trip, be sure to bring anything your pet may need. Have an ample amount of food and water. Bring any favorite toys to comfort them. Also include a first aid kit or any medications they need.
Once on the trip, be sure to take breaks for yourself and your pet. Give them time to walk outside. Make sure they have an ID collar at all times.
Keeping Your Pets Safe in Virginia
Before sticking your pet in a cage before your road trip, it’s important to get them comfortable with riding in a car. There are a few steps you can take to make this process easier
Before driving with your dog or cat, start by getting them used to being in the car. Have the animal sit in your vehicle while it’s in park, preferably while restrained within a pod or special seat.
After a few days of sitting in the parked car, start taking short trips down the road or around the neighborhood. This not only gets your pet used to driving, but you stay close to home in case they have any issues, like anxiety or car sickness
Avoid Common Hazards
If TV and movies have taught us anything, it’s how much fun dogs have while riding in a car. Unfortunately, this can be dangerous for our furry friends.
Try to keep your dog from hanging their head out of the window. This could cause irritants like dust and dirt to get in their eyes, possibly damaging their vision.
If you have a truck with a flatbed, never let your pet ride in it. Not only is it easy for them to fall out or jump, but the metal could burn their feet and body.
Don’t let your pet sit in your lap while driving. While not explicitly illegal in Virginia, this is a recipe for distractions.
And most importantly: don’t leave your pets in an unattended vehicle, especially during the summer. In Virginia, owners of unattended pets can be charged a misdemeanor, or a felony offense if the pet dies while in the vehicle. Either way, never leave your dogs or cats in a hot car. It’s dangerous for their health, even with the windows cracked.
Safety is Key
By ensuring that your pets are properly restrained and equipped for a car ride, you’re actively keeping the roads safe. Taking the extra time to train them, investing in safe restraints, and practicing some self-control, you can easily prevent devastating accidents.
In the unfortunate event of an accident while your pet is in the car with you, don’t hesitate to seek legal representation from Epperly & Follis. Our experienced personal injury lawyers understand how Virginia laws protect pets in the event of an accident and can help you get the compensation you deserve.