Distracted Driving with Dogs


Who doesn’t love seeing a dog with its face hanging out of the window of a moving car?  With the wind in their face and a gazillion smells and aromas to inhale, the look of pure joy on their face is contagious.  So we hate to be a fun killer, but here is the bad news: unrestrained dogs in moving cars can be extremely hazardous in a number of ways and a new trend could make it illegal.

Have you ever seen a driver with a small dog in their lap?  Were the dog’s feet are up on the driver’s door or even on the steering wheel?   We see it a lot especially in the drop-off, pick-up line of school.  Admittedly, the drivers are going slower in these circumstances but there is also a lot more to be mindful of, namely kids entering and existing vehicles, the crossing guard, the deputy directing traffic, the constant stop and go nature of pick-up/drop-off lines, etc.

We have also seen dogs moving around in the laps of drivers who are going full speed, trying to negotiate turns, pay attention to traffic, etc.   In both these situations, it is hard for a driver to be completely attentive to their primary obligation of driving with a moving, unpredictable furry friend on their lap.

That is why some legislators are starting to enact distracted driving laws that specifically apply to driving with dogs or other animals on the driver’s lap.   Hawaii, Maine, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut all have laws in place which prohibit operating a vehicle with an animal in your lap.  And some local government agencies are making it illegal in their town even if it is not illegal on a statewide basis.

If that is not enough to make you put your buddy in the back, consider this: in an accident, a dog is a loose projectile that can both be harmed and cause serious harm.  A dog who is sitting on your lap in a frontal accident will be sandwiched between a rapidly deploying and forceful airbag and your body, which is hopefully restrained by a seatbelt.   In other types of crashes, the dog is a dangerous projectile that could harm the driver or other occupants especially children.  A 10 lb. dog in a 30 mph crash becomes a 300 lb. force.  The unrestrained dog (or other animal) and any occupant it impacts are both likely to be seriously hurt if not killed in the accident.

In a moving car, an unrestrained dog can be a potential distraction to driving especially if the dog is on the driver’s lap.  An unrestrained dog can also be a danger to the driver and other occupants in the event of an accident.  So before putting the car in drive, make sure all humans and animals are buckled up.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver of any type, our award-winning lawyers may be able to help.  Call our office for a free consultation.  If we think we can help and you decide to hire us, we handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we recover money for you and your family.  We now have offices conveniently located in Nashville, Murfreesboro and Brentwood.  Phone numbers are below:

Brentwood: 615-742-4880

Nashville: 615-669-3993

 Murfreesboro: 615-867-9900

Toll-free: 866-812-8787

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