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Driving with unrestrained pets dangerous

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Jeylin White

jwhite@news-daily.com

AAA Auto Club South is advising Georgians, who plan to travel with their furry, four-legged friends this Memorial Day weekend, to make sure they properly strap-up their pets before hitting the road.

Failing to do so, experts say, could be flirting with disaster.

According to a recent survey by AAA Consumer Plus, more than 58 percent of Georgia residents, who travel with their pets, rarely -- or never -- restrain their pets while in their vehicles.

"Pet owners may not realize the amount of force a pet can generate when in a vehicle crash unrestrained," said Michele Harris, director of AAA Traffic Safety Culture. "People often consider their pet to be part of the family, yet may never think to buckle them up when on the road."

According to AAA, a significant distraction that can lead to car crashes is drivers who allow their pets to roam freely in their vehicles, causing them to take their eyes off the road.

Harris says, a driver who takes his or her eye off the road for only two seconds, doubles his or her risk of being in a cash.

She added that anything that takes the drivers focus off the road is dangerous, especially when millions of motorists are traveling at the same time, such as during Memorial weekend.

Harris gave examples of a few worse-case scenarios, in a car crash in which unrestrained pets are involved:

* The pet can become a projectile and potentially injure, or kill, both the pet and a passenger;

* The pet can distract the driver of the vehicle, causing the driver to crash;

* The pet can become stressed and aggressive, which could lead to several unpleasant and/or dangerous outcomes;

* The pet can flee the scene and injure itself, or cause another accident as vehicles try to avoid hitting the animal.

AAA recommends that pet owners use a proper restraint device when traveling with pets this holiday weekend, or at any other time.

These devices are sold at local pet shops, or can be purchased, online, at Furry Travelers, where AAA members are offered a 15-percent discount on all pet-travel products.