New Jersey drivers have someone else to buckle up when they hit the road this summer: Their pet.
According to news from NEWStat, AAHA’s news service for veterinarians, New Jersey drivers now risk fines up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail for carrying a pet unrestrained in their vehicle.
Think it's a hefty price? Drivers could end up paying more for unrestrained pets than unbuckled people!
Citing the American Automobile Association (AAA), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that 2 out of 3 owners engage in distracting behaviors when their pet is in the car, such as playing with, petting, or feeding their dog. In another AAA survey, 20 percent of respondents said they allowed their pet to sit in their lap while driving. Thirty-one percent said they were distracted by their dog while driving.
The night I adopted Reux, I plopped him into the front seat of my tiny, airbag-defunct Mitsubishi Eclipse, and told him to “stay put” while I drove us to his new home. Not exactly the safest choice for either of us.
A few weeks later, I sold the Eclipse and bought a much more dog-appropriate vehicle: A Nissan Xterra, complete with oodles of space for a full-sized dog kennel in the back. These days, Reux rides safely in the back of my Xterra in a wire kennel strapped into my car using a creative assortment of bungee cables. It’s safer for me not having to worry about my dog running lose in my car while I’m driving, and it’s safer for him because it keeps him contained and secure, and less likely to become a “projectile” in a crash.
Growing up, my family dog Holli would always ride in the front seat of my dad’s truck, trundling down back-country roads with us and helping my dad plow the driveway when it snowed. It never really seemed like a big safety risk to either of us to have her in the front seat of the car.
But there’s more than one way to be safe while on the road with your pet. When my sister adopted a puppy of her own about 8 years ago, she used a seatbelt harness to strap her dog into the front seat of her truck. Seatbelt harnesses are a good choice for non-SUVs that may not have the interior space for a large dog kennel.
And don’t forget the cats! My cat Fez has always ridden in a carrier securely belted in to the seat of my car. When I drove my tiny Eclipse out to Portland, Oregon for a new job, he came with, safely strapped in his carrier and carefully tucked in along with my other belongings.
Do you travel with your pet? If so, how do you keep them safe while on the road?
Photo: American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) poster. Print your own here.