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Pets—The Newest Driving Distraction

Anyone who has taken a walk in or around Chicago knows that Chicagoans love their pets. Dogs of all shapes and sizes can be seen traveling on the sidewalks alongside their owners in virtually every neighborhood at all times of the day. However, a new WGN TV article mentions that the friendly animals are now frequently making their way off the sidewalks and into cars.

The results can be deadly.

It is not surprising that many dog owners travel with their animals in the car. After all, car travel is often the only way to move the pet long distances. However, what is alarming is that 21% of owners who travel with their pet admit to holding the animal on their lap while behind the wheel. A majority of owners-even those who do not drive with the dog in the driver’s seat-admit to petting the dog while moving in the vehicle.

As with any other distraction in the car, these interactions with dogs while moving at high speeds could very well lead to tragic accidents. When accidents strike both the people in the car and the animals are likely to be hurt. The risk of harm increases with animals in the car, because in many crashes they act as projectiles. A design company confirmed that a large dog, around 80lbs, exerts 2,400 pounds of force if involved in a 30mph crash.

In the end, the risk and potential harm make travelling while distracted by pets an ill-advised choice. Be sure to contact a Chicago car accident lawyer if you have been involved in any car crash with a distracted driver.