Americans will go to long lengths to ensure the health and happiness of their pets. Often, that includes getting our four-legged friends loaded up and ready to roll on car trips. No states are lacking in their love of pets, but the Northwest is known to be notoriously pet friendly. So, it stands to reason that road trippin’ with Fido is widely done.

Despite all the driving done with dogs, the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll shows that drivers in Washington and Oregon find their pets to be a big source of distraction. In fact, 43 percent of Washington drivers find their fur babies to be a bigger distraction than riding around with rambunctious children. Oregon drivers did not share this sentiment; they found children and pets to be equally distracting on the road.

The Risks Involved

dog safety in carsIt is no secret that distracted driving is a leading cause in the rising crash rate over the past few years. Distractions can come in a number of forms, including having an unrestrained pet in the vehicle. In a survey conducted by AAA and Kurgo, 84 percent of people admitted to driving with an unrestrained pet. This can be especially dangerous for both pets and people, as animals can become projectiles capable of excessive force in a crash.

This means your beloved pet could become seriously injured, or be a source of serious injury to you. According to AAA, an unrestrained 10-pound pup will exert roughly 500 pounds of force in a crash at 50 mph. In a crash at just 30 mph, an unrestrained 80-pound dog will exert about 2,400 pounds of force on impact.

Best Practices for Safety

To keep man’s best friend, as well as yourself, safe and happy on the road, it is best to keep your pet restrained. There are several ways to do this, from pet-safe seat belt harnesses to carriers to crates, but no matter what method you choose, restraining your pet is a must.

These days, there are several options to choose from, so keeping your furry friend safe should depend on their specific needs. However, a good tip is to always keep your pet in the backseat. This will help keep them out of harm’s way from a passenger airbag, which, for a pet, may do more damage than good.

Pet-specific seat belts are suitable for dogs both big and small, and allow your animal the freedom to move within the space of a seat. These can be ideal for traveling in more cramped conditions, where room for a crate may not be feasible.

Crates provide the ideal safety for pets in a vehicle. They not only limit the pet’s mobility, but they can also provide a reassuring space that the pet views as theirs. This can be especially true if your animal gets anxious while traveling in the car. A good tip: always look for a crate that has a high crash test rating, and know that “carriers” are not considered crash-worthy crates.

Other Considerations for Pet Travel

Though restraining your pet is a top priority in keeping them safe in the car, these tips will make your travels with your furry friends as comfortable and safe as possible.

  • Don’t forget the water - Always bring water for your pet, even on a quick trip, but, a good recommendation is to bring at least a gallon of cold water for your pet on a long trip.
  • Give your pet time to stretch - It is a good idea, for both Fido and you, to stop at least once every two to three hours. Make sure your pet has a chance to get some exercise and water, as well as do their business.
  • Bring your pet’s vet records - Making this a habit on long trips will help in the event you need some emergency medical attention for your pet passengers.
  • Disable power windows - This simple tip can be a lifesaver. Power windows can be easy for a pet to paw, leaving them susceptible to dangers like falling out of an open window or rolling a window up on themselves and choking.
  • Pack a doggie bag - Having a pet pack ready for trips will help you ensure you have everything your companion needs to be safe and happy on the go. This helps everything be contained and easily accessible on the road.

Finding the Perfect Car for Pet-Friendly Travel

If you are looking to do more traveling with your pet, make sure to keep their needs and safety in mind. Not sure your car is up to snuff when it comes to pet protection? Drivers Lane can help you get started down the path to finding a vehicle that’s just right for you and your loyal travel buddy.

At Drivers Lane, we have a network of car dealers who have access to specialized lenders that can help in many credit situations, even if you have bad credit or no credit. Take the first step toward traveling in your next vehicle by filling out our free auto loan request form online today!