We love our dogs, and it’s hard to think of going somewhere without our “best friends.” But be warned: unrestrained pets cause thousands of automobile accidents each year.

In the interest of safety for you, your dog and other drivers, here are six tips for making your drive with your dog much safer:

1. Restrain Your Dog

Unrestrained dogs can be a distraction to drivers and can get injured if you make a sudden stop or if you are involved in an accident — even at low speeds. Secure your pet in a crate or with a restraining harness to keep them safe.  Don’t let your dog become a projectile that can injure you or others. In the event of an accident, a scared, hurt or protective dog could dissuade others from helping you, or hinder emergency personnel from providing aid to you. Also consider that an unrestrained dog could be hit by passing cars if it leaves your vehicle after a crash.

2. Don’t Drive with Your Dog On Your Lap

A dog of any size on your lap is a dangerous distraction. Buttons, levers, gearshift selectors, door handles and control pedals can all be inadvertently affected by your dog, which could distract you or directly cause a crash.

3. Don’t let dogs ride with their head out of the window.

Road debris, flying insects and other items can easily injure y our dog, especially if they strike your dog’s eyes. The yelp of pain or the physical response to being struck could distract you and cause an accident.

4. Get your pet used to the car and make them feel comfortable.

If dogs only associate a car ride with a trip to the vet, they will be nervous and difficult in the car. But if there are trips to a dog park or other errands, they won’t be afraid to get in the car, and will be better behaved.

5. Make sure your pet has proper identification.

Up-to-date ID tags with emergency contact information with be a big help in recovering your dog in the event it becomes lost while traveling or after an accident.

6. Prepare a doggie bag.

Bring along toys and other items to help keep your dog busy, content and well-behaved. Have a supply of towels, water and treats. A stressed dog becomes a distraction.

If you wouldn’t let any member of your family jump back and forth from the front seats to the back seats, or stick their head out the window, or ride on your lap while you drive, why would you let your dog? There are an increasing number of state laws on the book meant to discourage – and punish – drivers who are distracted by unrestrained dogs. Make sure you and your dog are on the right side of the law!

For more information about auto insurance, pet insurance or umbrella insurance (which can protect you when auto insurance isn’t enough), contact us today.