Pets’ love is unconditional, so it’s no wonder that pet parents want to keep their beloved animals by their side as much as possible. Pet owners whose pets spend ample time in the car should brush up on some safety precautions to ensure the roadways are safe for all travellers including those covered in fur.

Driving while distracted is a significant safety concern. Simply taking one’s eyes off the road for two seconds doubles the chances of being involved in a crash. It’s easy to see how pets can be a distraction on the road.

Drivers should never allow their pets to sit on their laps or ride in vehicles unless they are restrained. Doing so puts all passengers, pets and humans alike, in danger. A ten pound dog that’s not restrained can generate 500 pounds of force in a crash. 

Pet owners can heed these safety guidelines to make trips with their pets less dangerous.

• Recognize that airbags can cause injury.

Airbags are designed to protect people, not pets. It’s always recommended that pets ride in the back seat or the storage area of an SUV in vehicles equipped with airbags. 

• Watch those windows.

Although riding with their heads out of the car window is a quintessential image of dogs in car, such situations put dogs in danger. Fast-blowing debris or litter can injure the dog, and heavy airflow can damage the animal’s respiratory system, warn veterinarians. Dogs also may attempt to jump out.

• Invest in a restraint system.

Vehicle restraint systems keep pets safe. Small dogs may benefit from being inside crates that are secured to the vehicle. Harnessing a pooch is another option, and many harnessess connect directly to seat belts. Dog gates and guards can be installed between the back seat and the storage bay area, which is great when traveling with multiple dogs.

• Avoid truck beds.

Pets should never be transported in the bed of pickup trucks. Dogs should only ride in pickup trucks with extended cabs that allow their owners to secure them in the backseat.

Keeping passengers, including both people and pets, safe in vehicles is the responsibility of drivers.