San Francisco isn’t the only region cracking down on distracted driving this month. Here in Contra Costa County, California Highway Patrol officers have cited more than 300 drivers this week for violating distracted driving laws which prohibit the use of handheld devices behind the wheel. On Wednesday, the CHP issued nearly 800 citations for the dangerous practice in the Bay Area as a whole, reports the Contra Costa Times.
But cell phones are far from the only distraction putting drivers in danger. The list of distractions grows every day and includes eating while driving and interacting with other passengers. But another article published in the Contra Costa Times today points to an unexpected addition to this list: pets.
A recent AAA survey found that two thirds of dog owners admit to petting or playing with their pets while driving. Twenty one percent of respondents said they drive with the animal in their lap, and seven said they feed their dogs food and water while zooming down the highway. This is an incredibly dangerous practice for pet owners and animals alike.
“If the animal is sitting between the steering wheel and the driver, the air bag will throw the animal back at you with great force,” said Illinois State Police safety education manager Sgt. Brian Copple. “An air bag is designed to catch a 160-pound person. It’s not meant to protect Fluffy.”
I’m as much of a dog lover as anyone, but when it comes to driving, it’s important to remember how easily your car can become a safety hazard. And whether you’re distracted by your cell phone or your pet, taking your eyes off the road endangers yourself, your passengers, and other drivers. Fortunately, you can cuddle with ‘Fluffy’ all you want once you reach your destination safely.
Photo credit: emdot