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Motorists encouraged to buckle up pets

• Sep 26, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Texting and phone calls are not the only driver distractions causing problems on the roads.

Many people don’t realize that an unrestrained dog or cat riding in a vehicle can also be a distraction and equally as dangerous. Keeping your furry friend buckled up while traveling on vacation or locally to the grocery or park can help avoid many unknown dangers created by an unrestrained pet.

According to the American Pet Products Association there are 78 million dogs in the U.S. and each year, more and more pets are traveling with their owners to pet parks, restaurants and pet-friendly destinations. The problem is, the vast majority of owners are traveling with their pets unrestrained.

A dog sitting in the front seat can risk fatal injury from an airbag, even in a minor collision. Just as bad, a dog is also at risk for flying through the windshield when sitting co-pilot. In the backseat they could be thrown like a projectile with enough force to seriously injure the human passengers and small children are most susceptible to serious injury.

If a collision is bad enough that emergency crews are required, an unsecured animal could run from the scene into oncoming traffic, get hit or even cause another accident. The animal could also create a situation where the firefighter or paramedic is not able to get to you safely. Or even worse, a scared pet could pose a threat to a paramedic or firefighter and they may have to put the animal down in order to save human life.

Some states have passed pet restraint laws.

In Arizona, Connecticut and Maine, distracted-driving laws can be used to charge drivers with pets on their laps.

Hawaii explicitly forbids drivers from holding a pet on their lap.

In New Jersey, an NJSPCA officer can stop a driver they believe is improperly transporting an animal. Tickets range from $250 to $1,000 per offense, and a driver can face a disorderly person’s offense under animal-cruelty laws.

And in Rhode Island, proposed legislation would make having a dog in your lap a distracted-driving violation.

There are a number of products available that provide great options for keeping your pet safe while traveling. Fido Pet Products offers their patented FidoRido, a 3-in-1 booster seat and restraint system that can also be use as a pet bed and bath tub for dogs up to 30 pounds.

The FidoRido installs easily using the car's seat belt. The two-strap restraint system, when used with the FidoRido® harness provided, equalizes the pressure of a sudden stop. The FidoRido provides lots room and pet comfort, and even when restrained, dogs can sit, stand, lie down and look out the window.

Visit www.fidopetproducts.com to learn more about the FidoRido 3-in-1 booster seat and restraint system and other safety and fun products for pets.