Study Finds Pets Can Be as Much of a Distraction for Drivers as Texting

A study released last week by AAA seems certain to add to the debate surrounding distracted driving in Oregon and elsewhere around the nation. According to the survey, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, two out of every three dog owners “said they routinely drive while petting or playing with their dogs.”
Need I mention that this is not a very safe practice?

In fact, according to Fox News (reporting on the same AAA study), an unrestrained animal in a moving car poses the same degree of distracted driving danger as texting. Texting while driving is, of course, illegal in Oregon and a growing number of other states. That is somewhat ironic since, as the Tribune notes, “there are no state laws requiring drivers to buckle up their pets or prohibiting them from holding animals on their laps.” The paper quotes a AAA spokeswoman saying the auto club considers this situation “an increasingly big problem.”
It should be said that the mere fact that no law requires a driver to restrain his dog does not exempt motorists from driving safely and responsibly. A driver who hits you because they were distracted by a dog in the car may not, technically speaking, have broken Oregon’s distracted driving law, but that does not give them a pass on what would otherwise be considered reckless or negligent driving.

The Tribune, citing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures, reports that approximately 6000 people “died in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver in 2008 and more than 500,000 were injured.” If you have become the victim of such a crash or Oregon car accident you have rights, regardless of whether or not the Oregon distracted driving law comes into play. Prompt consultation with a Portland car crash lawyer is an essential first step toward protesting your rights in the wake of any Oregon auto accident.

Fox News: We’re driven to distraction when Fido is Co-Pilot, study finds

Chicago Tribune: Dogs distract drivers, AAA warns