The survey was conducted by North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization--AAA--and Kurgo, which makes products specifically designed for traveling with your dog. The survey found that 31 percent of respondents admit to being distracted by their dog while driving, while 59 percent say they have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog.
More than half--55 percent-- have petted their dog while driving, and one in five--21 percent--allowed their dog to sit in their lap.
Other distracting behaviors that drivers admitted to include giving food and water to their dog (7 percent) and playing with their dog (5 percent). These kinds of behaviors can distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash.
Unrestrained dogs can be a danger to a driver, a passenger and to the dog itself. An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents stated that they have driven with their pets on a variety of car trips including day trips, local errands and leisure trips or to work, the pet store or dog parks. However, only 17 percent use any form of pet restraint system when driving with their dog.
To increase driver and pet safety, here are some tips:
• The use of a pet restraint system, such as those available from Kurgo (www.kurgo.com), can aid in limiting distractions and help protect your pet.
• Keep your dog in the backseat, as you would a child. Being in the front seat can expose a dog to being injured if the car's air bag is deployed.
• Remember, a dog near a driver can interfere with both a driver's physical and mental ability to operate the vehicle. When a dog blocks the brake pedals or takes the driver's attention off the road, it has become a safety hazard.
To learn more about keeping yourself and your dog safer while driving, visit www.AAA.com or www.kurgo.com. Pet owners who want to take their pet on a longer trip can find all the information they need to make their vacation easier and safer in "Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook," which includes pet-friendly, AAA Approved property listings and advice on traveling with pets. Visit www.aaa.com/petbook.