New Law Focused on Unusual Type of Distracted Driving

By now, many of us are very familiar with the dangers posed by distracted drivers. Whether it is talking, texting or searching for a radio station, any time that a driver takes his or her eyes off of the road the potential for a motor vehicle accident greatly increases.

New Jersey has been very aggressive with its distracted driving laws. Drivers must use hands-free devices if they are on the phone, and text messaging is prohibited. Additionally, those motorists that cause serious injuries our death could be looking at massive fines, as well as potential prison time.

A new law was recently proposed that would add to the list. A New Jersey Assemblywoman, L. Grace Spencer, has introduced a bill that would require drivers to have some sort of pet restraints in place when the pets are in the vehicles.

Devices may include safety harnesses, animal seat belts or even transport cages that would restrict the animal’s movement. Anything that would be used must be humane to the animal. If the proposal becomes law, violators could be fined.

There are signs that more drivers are becoming distracted by their pets. A 2011 survey by AAA and Kurgo (a company that specializes in products that are geared toward pet transportation) revealed that 29 percent of drivers had been distracted by their pet dogs while driving.

It will be interesting to see how legislatures across the country deal with the issue of pet-related distracted driving. Unfortunately, it seems that tragic accidents often spur motion on distracted driving legislation, which means that many motorists may not yet take this type of distracted driving seriously.

Source: “New Jersey Lawmaker Wants Pets to Wear Seatbelts When Traveling in Cars” August 21, 2012.

To learn more about the accidents caused by distracted drivers, please see our page on motor vehicle accidents.

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