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Your dog can be a road companion but shouldn't be a distraction

As millions of Americans start planning their summer road trips, many are including their canine family members in those plans. Unfortunately, too few take the proper precautions to protect their pets -- and the humans in the car and on the road around them -- from injury. A full 84 percent of dog owners who transport them in the car admit that they don't restrain them.

An unrestrained dog can cause all sorts of dangers on the road. Many like to climb into the driver's lap to get a better view of the scenery or just to snuggle. Some 17 percent of drivers have admitted to allowing their dog to be on their lap.

However, if you're involved in a crash, that dog can turn into a projectile with a force of at least 40 times its weight. Even with a small dog, that's significant. This can cause serious injuries to those in the vehicle, not to mention the animal.

Dogs can cause other types of dangerous distractions, even if they are properly restrained, if their humans decide to interact with them during the ride.

-- Over half of drivers have said that they pet their dog while they are driving.

-- Thirteen percent of drivers say that they give their dog treats or food.

-- Four percent of drivers even admit to playing with their dog when they are behind the wheel.

For your own safety as well as your dog's, it's important to have a reliable car safety seat or other restraint and to use it consistently whether you're going for a quick trip to the dog park or driving across the country.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so responsible. If you're injured in a crash by a driver who was distracted by his or her pooch or by anything else, that may be an important factor in getting compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Source: Pet Pro Supply, "The Statistics: Car Safety and Pets in America," accessed May 10, 2017

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