16 May 2011



Jessica Brady, spokesperson, AAA Public Relations, (813) 288-7294 office, (813) 532-5327cell, JBrady@AAASouth.com



58 Percent of Florida Travelers Rarely or Never Restrain Their Pet While Traveling in a Vehicle

TAMPA, Fla. (May 16, 2011) — As Memorial Day approaches, millions of motorists prepare to travel for the holiday weekend. For the more than half of Florida respondents who drive with their pet for leisure or vacation trips (64%), a properly restrained pet is imperative to the safety of both pets and passengers. However, of Florida respondents who drive with their pet, 58 percent of them rarely or never restrain their pet while traveling in a vehicle, shows a recent AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey fielded May 2-5. Click here for full survey.

An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 2,400 pounds of pressure. This amount of force can cause serious injury and/or death not only to the pet, but vehicle passengers as well. Any loose object, especially an unrestrained pet, can at as a missile in a vehicle when a crash occurs, causing serious damage.

"Pet owners may not realize the amount of force a pet can generate when in a vehicle crash and unrestrained," said Michele Harris, director, 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."

Pets allowed to freely roam in a vehicle can pose a distraction to drivers, especially to drivers who allow their pet to sit in their lap while driving. The pet could easily block the drivers view, jump below the seat where the pedals are located, or cause the driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel. The majority of Florida respondents (64%) think an unrestrained pet is somewhat or not at all dangerous while driving, yet many admit to doing things with their pet while driving such as petting their pet (55%), allow their pet to sit in their lap (28%), allow their pet to move from seat to seat (28%), and play with their pet (13%).

So far, Hawaii is the only state that bans motorists from driving with a pet in their lap because of the potential distractions. Other states are looking into the issue and have considered fines for those who drive with an unrestrained pet or while holding their pet such as Oregon, California, and Michigan.

"A driver who takes their eyes off the road for only two seconds doubles their risk of being in a crash," said Harris. "Anything that takes a driver’s focus off the road is dangerous, especially when millions of motorists are traveling at the same time such as Memorial Day weekend."

AAA recommends pet owners use a restraint device anytime they are driving with their pet in the vehicle. Pet vehicle restraints are sold at a variety of pet stores and online at Furry Travelers, where AAA members receive 15 percent off on all travel-related pet products. Or, for more pet safety information consumers can visit AAA’s new pet owner website PetSpot.AAA.com.

Dangers of Traveling with an Unrestrained Pet:

  • The pet can become a projectile and potentially injure or kill both the pet and passengers if in a crash
  • An unrestrained pet can distract the driver of the vehicle, causing the driver to crash
  • If in a crash, an unrestrained pet can become stressed and aggressive, trying to bite paramedics or others who come to help
  • If in a crash, an unrestrained pet can flee the vehicle and injure itself and/or cause another accident as vehicles try to avoid hitting the animal

AAA Auto Club South is the fourth largest affiliate of AAA and serves more than 4.1 million members in Florida, Georgia, Middle/West Tennessee, and Puerto Rico. Since its founding in 1938, AAA Auto Club South has worked to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve travel safety.

The AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey was conducted online among residents living in AAA Auto Club South territory from May 2-5.  A total of 180 Florida dog and cat owners completed the survey. The survey has a maximum margin of error of +/- 7.3 percentage points.  Overall survey responses are weighted by age and income to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Florida.

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AAA Auto Club South, 1515 N West Shore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33607-4505 United States