Driving with Dogs: How to Do It Safely | Scott Goodwin Law

Driving with Dogs: How to Do It Safely

by / Friday, 15 October 2021 / Published in Motor Vehicle Accidents, Tips
Dog holding a leash in its mouth.

Very often, dog owners like to take their pets out and about in the car with them. Sometimes they just head to the neighborhood dog park to play or to visit the vet’s office, but many dog owners like to hit the road with their pets for road trips so that they can have even more adventures. But what can pet owners do to drive safely with their four-legged friends in the car, regardless of how far they’ll be traveling? And are there any laws about driving with dogs?

Michigan Laws About Driving With Dogs

In the past, bills have been proposed in the state of Michigan to ban drivers from having dogs on their laps while driving. But as of 2021, they have never officially been enacted as a law. However, just because there isn’t a law saying that Michigan dog owners need to contain and secure their dog while driving so that it isn’t on their lap, it’s still an extremely good idea to do so. In fact, it’s one of the simplest ways to make sure the dog (and everyone else in the car) stays safe during the ride. 

Why You Need to Secure Your Dog in the Car

It’s very important to remember that distracted driving can be a lot more than using a cell phone while driving. Anything that takes your eyes and/or attention off the road or forces you to take a hand off the wheel can be considered distracted driving and having a dog in the car can potentially result in drivers doing at least one of those things. 

In a survey cited by Pet Supply Pro, 60% of dog owners admit to being distracted by their dog while driving. More specifically, 52% admitted to having petted their dog while driving, 17% let their dogs sit on their laps while driving, and 13% have given food to their dog while driving. 

When the dog is secured in a carrier or harness, you won’t need to worry about it trying to climb into your lap or get in your feet, or otherwise cause a distraction by moving around in the vehicle. Keeping the dog contained in a carrier or harness not only helps prevent drivers from becoming distracted behind the wheel, it can help protect your pet in the event of a crash. Ideally, dogs should be secured in the back seat so that they’ll be out of the direct line of air bags if they deploy. If you can’t fit a carrier in your car, a barrier can be set up to prevent the dog from climbing into the front seat with you.

Seat belts work by stopping people from continuing to move forward when the car suddenly stops in the event of a car crash. Keeping a dog in a carrier or harness that is properly secured in the vehicle can help give them some of the same protection. Loose objects of any kind in a car, including a dog, can potentially become a serious hazard during a car crash. If a crash occurs at a speed of 25 MPH, an unrestrained dog can suddenly move at a force of 40x its weight. This can be extremely dangerous for both the dog and anyone else in the vehicle, even if it’s a small dog. 

Get Help from a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

Not all car accidents are simple fender-benders. When they cause injuries, those injuries may be life altering. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, it’s extremely important to make sure you know your rights. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a car accident lawyer with years of experience helping people like you. Contact us today to find out how we can help.