Don't pet and drive: The right way to travel with your pet

Keep Fido safe on your road trips.

If you have a dog, the chances are that you have given in once or twice to let them sit in the front seat of the car with you. You roll down the passenger seat window, they stick their little head out, and you bask in the cuteness as their tail wags and their fur blows in the wind.

But as adorable as this may be, the truth is that you and your pup are both in potential danger when they are allowed to roam unrestrained in your vehicle.

They can be a distraction. You hear all the time about the dangers of texting while driving or altering your GPS while on the road. But it’s important to note that pets can also be a major distraction. If they move around, they can accidentally get between your feet and the pedals. Or, if they’re easily stressed by riding in a car, their nerves could distract you from focusing on the road ahead.

Your dog can be injured. If a crash– even a minor one—were to occur, a small pet could easily be crushed by an inflated airbag or thrown from the car and injured. A survey from AAA shows that an unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure. And if that’s not scary enough, in the event of an accident, pets often escape from the vehicle and run away or run out into traffic.

In some states, you are actually required by law to harness your dog in the car. Each state has a specific law and set of restraints. Check out your state’s guidelines here.

Although the potential danger is there and laws are in place, many people still let their pooch sit in the front of a car. A recent study conducted by Volvo shows that 97 percent of pet owners drive with their dogs, but 48 percent don’t own any safety driving gear for the pets. And 41 percent let their dogs ride in the front seat.

So how should a dog be transported in a car? A pet should always ride in the back seat. And they should have a harness attached to the seat belt or should be held in a crate. If they ride in the car with you frequently, consider purchasing a specially designed pet seatbelt to ensure that they’re safe and secured.

Or, if you have an SUV, consider setting up a dog gate in your car. This separates them from the passengers in the car and gives them free range to roam in the trunk area. You can place their dog bed, food, and water in this area to make it comfortable and homey for your pooch.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to keeping our viewers accident-free, which is why we initiated the Drive Safe campaign. Steer clear of danger with our monthly tips.