Driving with dogs: Tips to keep everyone in the car safe
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(BPT) -- It's
only natural for man's best friend to stay close by his master's
side, but for dog owners who drive frequently, bringing Fido along
for the ride can be risky.
The problem is particularly worrisome for older drivers. A recent
study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at
Birmingham showed that for people 70 years and older, crash rates
were higher among those who frequently drove with pets in the car.
But for many drivers, leaving precious pets behind isn't an option.
The best compromise is to find solutions that will get you from
point A to point B without compromising the safety of human or
Distracted driving is a growing concern, and a loose pet in the
car certainly numbers among the potential hazards that can take your
eyes -- and mind -- off the road and lead to accidents. While older
drivers might not be as likely to be distracted by texting or
smartphone surfing, even those who have spent many years navigating
the roads need to honestly assess how having a pet in the car can
divert their attention away from the road.
To stay safe on the road when Fido is with you, remember these
Having a pet sit on your
lap is obviously distracting, but if the pet is in the front
passenger seat, the problem can be just as bad. In the front seats,
your pet is more likely to be within your line of sight and obstruct
your view of the road. An unrestrained dog in the front seats could
also be easily injured if you have to slam on the brakes or swerve,
or if you are hit from behind. The force with which air bags deploy
also poses a safety hazard for dogs in the front seat. If you're in
an accident and the air bags inflate and hit your dog, the animal
could easily sustain an injury.
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Brush up on your driving skills. Today's driving environment
is probably very different than it was when you first got your
license. A refresher course, like those offered by AARP Driver
Safety, is an ideal way to ensure that your skills are up-to-date.
Brushing up on defensive driving techniques and the essential rules
of the road will help keep everyone in your car safe -- and you may
even qualify for a multiyear automobile insurance discount from your
insurance company (check with your agent for details). AARP Driver
Safety courses are available in a classroom or online setting, in
both English and Spanish.
Pets are important members of the family, so it's only right that
drivers consider their safety, just as they would for any other
passenger. For more safe driving tips and information about AARP
Driver Safety, visit www.aarp.org/drive.