In the event of a collision, anything in a vehicle that is not restrained is likely to fly around, possibly injuring passengers. This risk of serious injury may be low if the item is a box of Kleenex. Alternatively, the risk is quite high if the unrestrained item is a dog. Shockingly, only 16% of people who regularly travel with their dog in their vehicle report using some form of restraint.
Putting Your Dog At Risk
Owners of small dogs often drive with their dog in their lap. This creates dangers for driver and canine alike. A dog sitting in the lap of a driver can lead to distracted driving, which increases the risk of an accident occurring. Furthermore, a dog in the lap of its owner is extremely vulnerable to injury from the air bag deploying. This risk transfers to the driver as well, as the airbag can force the dog against the chest or face of the driver.
In some collisions, dogs can become projectiles. This is dangerous for both the dog and the passengers of the vehicle, who may be struck by the dog. In a collision of approximately 50 kilometers per hour, a 10 pound dog will exert 500 pounds of force. An 80 pound dog will exert around 2,400 pounds of force.
Secure Spot: It’s the Law
There are two acts in British Columbia that directly concern the safety of transporting animals in a motor vehicle. Section 72 of the BC Motor Vehicle Act prohibits the transportation of any unrestrained pets in the back of a pickup truck. This makes sense now that we know the statistics for dog projectiles.
Additionally, Section 9.3 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act includes the following:
9.3 (1)A person responsible for an animal must not transport the animal by vehicle unless the animal is
(a)inside the passenger compartment, or
(b)confined or secured in a manner that will prevent the animal from
(i)falling from the vehicle,
(ii)being injured during transport, or
(iii)causing a hazard to the safe operation of other vehicles.
(2)A person responsible for an animal must not attach the animal to a vehicle that is in operation unless the animal is confined or secured as described in subsection (1) (b).
Best Practices for Dogs in Cars
ICBC recommends buckling up your dog the same way that you would any passenger. There is a wide variety of car-safe harnesses available to purchase. These harnesses help keep your dog safely in place, the same way that a seatbelt would, in the event of a collision. Alternatively, you can buy crash-tested crates that are secured by a seatbelt in the back seat of your vehicle. Again, ICBC stresses the importance of finding a crash-tested crate, for the safety of both yourself and your dog.
At the end of the day, our dogs are loved ones just like our family. It is important to be responsible when transporting dogs in vehicles and to take all precautionary steps to prevent injury.A safely restrained dog means safe transportation for them and the passengers in the vehicle.
Road Rules by Dominique McCrimmon and Cedric Hughes