Safety a Challenge When Traveling With Pets

This article originated in the September/October 2015 issue of Safe Ride News.

A dog buckled in a pet restraint harness.

While’s it’s not the norm, some people, like the owner of the pooch in this photo, do what they can to protect all vehicle occupants, including pets. Although these efforts to restrain pets are worthwhile, many pet owners would be dismayed to know how poorly most pet restraint products would perform in a crash. Anyone riding with pets should consider:

  • Pets that ride unrestrained in vehicles can distract the driver and cause a crash. Like other unbuckled occupants, they may be injured in a crash and could be projectiles that injure children or other occupants.
  • Unrestrained, uninjured pets are likely to run from a vehicle after a crash, increasing the chance that they will be lost or struck by another vehicle.
  • Pets restrained using most devices currently on the market are less likely to distract a driver or to run away after a crash. However, the vast majority of pet harnesses are not crashworthy. Even pets in crates can be at risk if the crate collapses due to crash forces.
  • Although some states have laws requiring pets to be restrained when riding in vehicles, no standards currently exist to ensure that these pet restraints are protective.