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Pets and Distracted Driving: What You Need to Know

Driving behaviors and patterns have changed since the pre-pandemic era一but for the worse. Speeding tickets may have declined, but distracted driving has continued to rise, especially since February 2022. 

According to the NHTSA, distracted driving is a reckless road behavior that claimed the lives of approximately 3,142 individuals in 2020. Most reported cases of distracted driving happened due to phone use and interactions with other individuals in the car. 

However, statistics suggest that there’s a current rise in distracted driving due to the presence of pets inside the vehicle. In fact, a Kurgo and American Automobile Association (AAA) found that 80% of individuals drive around with their pets, and a huge percentage engage in distractive activity with their pets. 

Learn more about how pets can influence distracted driving and vehicular accidents. 

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving refers to any act that diverts or steals the driver’s attention away from driving. It is a reckless and dangerous behavior that divides their attention and prevents them from responding immediately to changes in the road while driving. 

Any activity or task that urges a driver to take their eyes, hands, or mind off the road, even for a few seconds, is already considered as distracted driving. This includes the following:

  • Using a phone to text, call, or access smart maps.
  • Eating, drinking, and smoking.
  • Accessing or fiddling with the radio, stereo, and navigation systems. 
  • Talking to people on the phone or those in the vehicle.
  • Looking for or getting a dropped object on the vehicle floor. 
  • Giving attention to pets inside the vehicle.

Distracted driving has become a national problem. It heightens the risk of several road accidents, such as direct collisions, personal injury, and fatalities. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 700 individuals get into an accident daily due to distracted driving. 

How do pets affect driving?

Driving with a pet may seem harmless for many pet owners, but it actually increases one’s risk of getting into a road accident. According to the AAA/Kurgo survey, 65% of pet owners commit distracted driving activities with their pets. This includes the following:

  • Petting or giving attention to the pet.
  • Using hands to hold, restrict, or assist the pet in any way.
  • Reaching or looking into the back seat to check on the pet.
  • Allowing pets to sit on the driver’s lap or go about the car unrestricted.
  • Playing with the pet.
  • Giving treats.
  • Taking a photo of or with the pet.  

What’s more alarming is that 80% of survey respondents drove around with their pets, and only 17% cared to use some form of pet restraint during the trip. 

Regardless, having a pet inside a vehicle while you drive comes with inherent risk since you are bound to check on them even for a few seconds. As studies suggest, taking your eyes away from the road ahead, even for two seconds, doubles one’s risk of being in a car crash. 

In what states is it illegal to drive with a dog on your lap?

It is illegal in the state of Hawaii to operate any form of motorized vehicle while a pet or animal is in the driver’s immediate area. This means that driving with a pet on the lap is prohibited, especially if it interferes with the driver’s ability to be in control and practice safe driving. 

In the state of New Jersey, it is not illegal to drive with a pet in the lap, but police authorities have the right to stop you and charge you with improper animal transportation. Additionally, drivers may also be charged with animal cruelty and face a fine of around $1000.

Can you drive with a dog on your lap in Florida?

Currently, there’s no law in Florida about driving with an unrestrained pet on the lap or anywhere near the driver’s immediate area. There are also no rules regarding pets under distracted driving. 

However, just because it’s not illegal does not automatically mean it is advisable to do. Engaging in such acts with your pet dog or cat is considered as distracted driving, which can potentially cause fatal accidents. 

Additionally, driving with pets not only heightens your risk of getting into a car accident; it also increases the chance of injuring or even killing your pet. During a vehicular collision, pets can be thrown, crushed, and fatally wounded during an accident. Such traumatic experiences may also frighten them and negatively affect their mental and behavioral well-being.

personal injury lawyer plantation fl

Where to find the best personal injury lawyer in Broward County?

If you’re a victim of a car collision caused by a distracted driver with a pet, then you need a car accident lawyer in Pembroke pines, such as Atty. Rafael Gonzalez.

Atty. Rafael Gonzalez is a personal injury lawyer in Pembroke pines, FL, that can help you collect the compensation you deserve. He will utilize accident evidence, witness observations, your statement, and other relevant information to strengthen your claim against the at-fault party. 

Not only will you get compensated for personal injury and property damage. Atty Gonzalez can also fight on your behalf so you can get paid for lost wages, pain and suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, and others.

Atty Rafael Gonzalez has been working as a Broward County personal injury attorney specializing in other types of accidents, such as the following:

One more thing—hablamos español—so if you are looking for a Spanish speaking car accident lawyer, then look no further!We offer free legal assistance with no obligation. All consultations are completely confidential and you pay absolutely nothing out-of-pocket. There are never any attorney's fees unless we win! Request a free case evaluation now! You can also call at 954-961-5100 to know more.

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Meet Atty. Rafael Gonzalez

Attorney Rafael A. Gonzalez received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law. 

While at the University of Miami, Mr. Gonzalez earned a judicial clerk position with the Honorable Judge Shelley Kravitz of the County Court House for Miami Dade County and took part in one of the largest product liability litigation cases in the United States. The case, Engle v Liggett, was against tobacco companies and resulted in a 145 billion dollar award to the plaintiffs. 

Mr. Gonzalez earned his stripes working with firms in Downtown Miami and Hialeah, Florida as a civil attorney. In 2010, Mr. Gonzalez joined forces with other civil litigators as a partner in the law firm of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp and Gonzalez specializing in motor vehicle accidents.

Read more about him here.
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