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According to the Automobile Association (AA) South Africa, being distracted while driving is a leading cause of accidents. Things that distract drivers include speaking on a cellphone or texting, trying to find fallen items, eating or drinking and trying to attend to a child or pet in the car.
While the safety of pets in a car is not written into law as it is for child passengers, the rules of the road prohibit any person, animal or object preventing the driver from exercising complete control over the movements of the vehicle or being able to signal their intention to stop, slow down or change direction.
As much as we love our animals and want them to be part of the family in every sense, an unrestrained pet in a car can lead to a serious accident and even the loss of your beloved pet, says Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) chairman Dewald Ranft.
“It is common to see people driving with their dog standing on the front seat with its head out the window, or lying in the back window or – and this does happen – sitting on the driver’s lap. People even travel with unrestrained pet birds and cats.
“An unrestrained pet in a car is irresponsible and the repercussions of that animal getting under your feet or distracting you in some or other way can be dire,” Ranft says.
10 things to consider before hitting the road with your pet
“Driver behaviour remains a big concern in South Africa. Apart from speeding and drinking and driving, there are many things people do behind the wheel of a car which they shouldn’t be doing,” Ranft concludes.
“Passengers, whether human or four-legged, should never be the cause of distractions. We concur with the AA that anything that prevents you from having both your hands firmly on the steering wheel should not be done while driving, and this includes giving Fluffy a comforting belly rub,” says Ranft.
MIWA is a proud Association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation.