About 16 percent of dog owners restrain their pets in the car, according to a 2011 study by AAA, but recent crash tests for pet restraints aren’t encouraging.
Every restraint that the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) tested with dog dummies failed and showed that serious injuries or deaths to animals are likely.
Restraints were found not to be strong enough to protect pets, allowing them to easily become "missiles" during accidents. Traveling at just 30 miles per hour, an unrestrained 10-pound dog will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure in an accident.
Not only were the pet restraints not strong enough, but crash tests revealed that dogs could actually be choked by them in a crash.
According to CPS' report, "None of the harnesses were deemed safe enough to protect both the dog and the humans in the event of an accident."
Despite the failure of restraints in simulated accidents, doggy seatbelts may be helpful in preventing distracted driving.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration doesn’t track the number of pet-related car accidents, but it’s reported that 16 percent of fatal crashes in 2009 were due to distracted drivers.
A 2011 survey sponsored by AAA and pet travel gear company Kurgo found that 23 percent of pet owners had used their arms to restrain dogs while applying the brakes in the past year. Nineteen percent took a hand off the wheel to prevent pets from climbing onto the front seat, and 17 percent said they hold their dogs in their laps during car rides.
There are currently no requirements on the strength or safety of pet restraints in cars.
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