Part I of this article uses the empirical research of experts (animal behaviorists, ethologists, and cynologists) to explain reasons canine companions and their humans love riding together. It also highlights the potential risks when dogs distract drivers. Acknowledging that only a few studies exist, it provides whatever statistics are available and posits that data strongly suggest dogs who are roaming free in a car cause or at least contribute to many accidents. This means, in addition to drivers and passengers in other vehicles and even pedestrians, these animals represent a significant potential danger to themselves and occupants of their car in one of two respects. First, they can distract the driver in any number of ways and cause or contribute to an accident. Second, they can become deadly projectiles if there is a collision (or even just the need to stop short).
Part II tackles the important question of how to significantly decrease the number of canine-involved accidents. This section analyzes the relevant cases and laws in the United States. It briefly contrasts what is happening in other places in the world, including the United Kingdom where it is illegal to drive with an unrestrained dog. Doing so actually permits insurance companies to reject any resulting claims. Then, after conceding the impossibility of eliminating all such mishaps, Part III explores ways to protect human and nonhuman animals when a crash occurs. These include the need to collect information about collisions where dogs distracted the driver similar to what was done when deciding that adults need to wear seat belts and children must be in safety seats. Finally, the Conclusion provides several recommendations.
Recommended CitationPhyllis Coleman, Keeping that Doggie in the (Car) Window Safe: Recommendations for Driving with Canine Companions, 38 Pace L. Rev. 338 (2018)
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/plr/vol38/iss2/4