Road Rants: Florida’s laws on driving with pets

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – We don’t think twice about buckling up our kids before we hit the road. So, why do so many drivers drive with their “fur kids” unrestrained?

While they may be adorable, pets can be a distraction to drivers. Plus, you put your pooch at risk when they’re unrestrained. According to the American Automobile Association, unrestrained pets can be seriously hurt or killed in low-speed crashes.

Also, airbags can be deadly for animals, as they are for small children.

Finally, there’s always the possibility that an animal will become frightened and run away following a crash. That means, your loved one may be lost forever, or wind up being hit by a car.

According to a recent article by GoPetFriendly.com, only New Jersey and Rhode Island require pets to buckle up. A handful of states prohibit unrestrained pets in cars. Ten states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws that could provide consequences for transporting unrestrained pets.

But, while proposals have been made in Florida to enact laws about securing our fur pals, there aren’t any on the books.

The Florida Highway Patrol told me a driver could be cited for careless driving if he causes a crash or other dangerous situation on the road and a loose pet was to blame. But, you can’t be pulled over simply for having your buddy in your lap.

So, from one pet lover to another, buckle up your pet just as you do yourself and your kids.

For a look at crash tests for pet harnesses and crates (no real animals were used) check out this study from the Center for Pet Safety.

Thanks to Brian who sent this Road Rants topic to me this week. What’s your Road Rant? Email me at mcensullo@wfla.com, or contact me on Facebook at WFLAMeredyth.

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