31 Percent in New AAA Survey Admit to Being Distracted by Their Pet While Driving

(LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18, 2010) – Millions of Americans recognize that dogs are wonderful companions and bring their favorite furry friend along on road trips, day trips and even day-to-day errands. However, in a vehicle this can mean added distractions for the driver. A recent survey conducted by AAA and Kurgo asked dog owners how often they drive with their dog and about their habits behind the wheel. The survey found that drivers not only love to bring Fido along, but they also often engage in risky behaviors when man’s best friend is along for the ride.
Thirty-one percent of respondents admit to being distracted by their dog while driving, however 59 percent have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog. More than half (55 percent) have pet their dog while driving, and one in five allowed their dog to sit in their lap (21 percent). Other distracting behaviors drivers admitted to include giving food and water to their dog (seven percent) and playing with their dog (five percent). These behaviors can distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash.
An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents stated that they have driven with their pets on a variety of car trips including day trips, local errands and leisure trips, the pet store, dog parks and to work. However only 17 percent use any form of pet restraint system when driving with their dog. Use of a pet restraint system, such as those available from Kurgo, can aid in limiting distractions and help protect your pet.
“Restraining your pet when driving can not only help protect your pet, but you and other passengers in your vehicle as well,” cautioned Anita Lorz, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Traffic Safety & Community Programs manager.  “An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that impact can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path.”
There are a variety of reasonably priced products available to help dog owners reduce distractions their pets might cause while driving while keeping them safe. There have been many recent innovations in this market from Kurgo and others to make these products more comfortable for the dog and convenient to use for the owner. AAA recommends owners utilize a restraint system anytime they are driving with their pet—even close to home.
Pet restraint products, such as those from Kurgo, are available at local pet stores nationwide. To find a dealer near you, visit Kurgo.com. Pet owners who want to take their pet on a longer trip can find all of the information they need to make their vacation easier and safer in Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook® including pet-friendly AAA Approved property listings and advice on transporting pets. The book also features information on how to enter the annual AAA PetBook Photo Contest sponsored by Best Western. Entry deadline is Nov. 30 and winning pets will appear on a cover of the next edition.  To enter, visit AAA.com/petbook.
AAA members can save on services for their pet by taking advantage of the Show Your Card & Save® program. Members save 10 percent on pet supplies at Target.com and 10 percent on pet sitting and dog walking services at home or on the road with Fetch! Pet Care. Prescriptions for family pets that can be filled at a traditional pharmacy may also be eligible for a AAA discount. For more information and to obtain a free Prescription Savings Card visit AAA.com/prescriptions or call 1-866-AAA-SAVE (1-866-222-7283). Visit AAA.com/discounts for more information and a complete list of retailers and offers.
The online study was conducted among a sample of 1,000 dog owners who have driven with their dog in past 12 months. The study results have an average statistical error of +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 confidence level. A fact sheet contains additional information about the study and about driving with pets.

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Elaine Beno
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