There’s a new menace distracting our nation’s drivers. There are 78 million of them in 46 million U.S. households. They’re causing an untold number of car accidents every year. No, we’re not talking about cell phones: we’re talking about dogs.
According to a new survey from the American Automobile Association and pet-supply company Kurgo, 52 percent of dog owners take their hands off the steering wheel to pet their canine companions while driving.
The online survey of 1000 pet owners found that the majority of dog owners admitted to taking their hands off the steering wheel or taking their eyes of the road while driving in order to attend to their furry friend. Twenty-three percent of owners use their hands to keep their dog in place while braking, and 19 percent admit to using their hands and arms to keep their pooch from clambering into the front seat.
Sound distracting? Not compared to the other dangerous activities to which drivers admitted. Eighteen percent of dog-owning drivers say they reach into the back seat to play with their dog while driving, 17 percent let the dog sit on their lap in the driver’s seat, 13 percent feed their dogs treats while behind the wheel, and — unbelievably enough — three percent of survey respondents said they have taken photos of their dogs whilst in the car.
AAA and Kurgo also recommend that dog owners use a pet-restraint system while driving. Similar to a seatbelt for humans, the systems keep pets in place during a car accident or sudden stop, preventing injury to the animal or other vehicle occupants. Just 16 percent of survey respondents said they use such a system when driving with the family pet.
AAA research shows that taking your eyes off the road for even two seconds can double a driver’s risk of having a car accident. Our advice? Keep the dog in the back of the car, and keep your hands and eyes on the road while driving.