Friday, August 20, 2010

DUI D = Driving under the influence of Dogs

California DUI criminal defense lawyers have heard it all when it comes to activities as dangerous or more dangerous than drunk driving, to wit: texting or talking on a cell phone while driving.

Consider lap dogs and other pets left unrestrained inside moving vehicles are potentially deadly, a new study released warns motorists.

2/3rds of dog owners surveyed by the AAA organization said they routinely drive while petting or playing with their dogs, sometimes even giving them food or water while maneuvering through traffic.

Who doesn't see dogs hang their heads out of open car windows with their ears flapping in the breeze.

Caution because more drivers are nonchalantly cradling their dogs atop their laps or perching the animals on their chests with the pet's front paws clutching the driver's neck or shoulders.

An eighty pound dog unrestrained during a crash at 30 mph exerts 2,400 pounds of force in a vehicle, creating a danger for the dog and anyone in its path, according to Motivation Design LLC, a company that manufactures pet travel products, including restraint systems for pets, under the brand name Kurgo.

Different from seat belt law for humans, there are no California state laws (yet) requiring drivers to buckle up their pets or prohibiting them from holding animals on their laps, officials said. But police can ticket drivers for having an obstructed view of the road or being obstructed from using the steering wheel and other mechanisms in the vehicle.

In an accidnet, if a dog is sitting between the steering wheel and the driver, the air bag will throw the animal back at you with great force. An air bag is designed to catch a person not a dog.

About 6,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver in 2008 and more than 500,000 were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

AAA and Kurgo were partners in the survey of 1,000 dog owners who have driven with their pets in the last year.

Fifty-five percent of the drivers polled said they have pet their dog while driving, and 21 percent said they held the dog in their lap. Seven percent said they have given food and water to their dog while driving, and five percent said they have played with their dog while behind the steering wheel.

Behaviors are relevant because looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles the risk of being in a crash, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Eighty percent of poll respondents said they take their dogs on a variety of car trips, only 17 percent said they use a pet-restraint system to limit distractions and protect their pet. These safeguards include harnesses, backseat barriers and special portable seats designed for animals like dogs.