Many people put the family dog in the back seat of the car or in the area behind the seats if they have an SUV with an open compartment. They don’t bother to use a seat belt or any other type of restraint. Maybe they’ve done this many times and the animal always just lays in the back, calm and collected, waiting to arrive at their destination.
Even so, doing this is very dangerous. First, there is a danger to the pet. You would never drive without a seatbelt because you know how much more likely it is that you’ll suffer serious injuries in an accident. You put your pet at the same risk, though, if they are unrestrained. Yes, it may seem safe enough — no one ever expects to crash — but many pets are injured or killed when they could have been protected.
Second, you have to remember that a pet in the car is a distraction. Say your dog spots another dog outside the window, jumps over the back seat, and starts to bark. You have the instant distraction of chaotic motion and noise. You probably turn around in your seat to try to get control of the dog. You take your eyes off the road. If the dog is in the front seat, it could physically strike you or the wheel and affect the trajectory of the car.
In short, that dog can go from being calm and relaxed to a major distraction and the source of a car accident in a split second. That’s not a risk anyone should take — yet, many people do. If you get hit by a driver who was distracted by their pet, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and related costs. An experienced attorney can help.