Pets and Distracted Driving in Oklahoma

The A&M TeamPersonal Injury

Significant attention has been paid recently to the dangers of driving distracted, and cell phone use has received the brunt of the blame in distracted driving accidents. It’s absolutely true that texting or using a cell phone while driving is extremely dangerous and can contribute to serious injury and tragic loss of life in the event of a car accident. However, new research shows that distracted driving may have a new culprit – your pets. If you have suffered injuries caused by a car accident in Oklahoma, contact our experienced car accident attorneys at Atkins & Markoff today. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 20% of car accidents in 2009 involved distracted driving. With the help of our qualified car accident attorneys in Oklahoma, victims of car accidents caused by distracted driving can pursue the compensation they deserve.

UNRESTRAINED DOGS AND CATS CAN CAUSE ACCIDENTS

Exact statistics regarding pet distraction are limited, namely because most surveys list unrestrained pets inside the car as one of many “internal distractions,” along with changing the radio station and grabbing loose items on the seat. However, nearly 90% of pet owners admit to traveling with their pets, and a 2010 survey by AAA found that 21% of respondents admitting to driving with their pet on their lap, 7% said they’d given their pet food or water while driving, and 5% said they played with their pet while the car was moving. Significant concern is placed on an unrestrained animal contributing to unsafe driving or a car accident and the fact that unrestrained dogs and cats are more likely to be harmed or even thrown from a vehicle in minor fender benders. However, experts also warn that, during a crash, a pet flying through the air also represents a serious hazard to everyone in the car. To put this into better perspective, in a 35-mile-per-hour accident, an unrestrained 60-pound dog would carry the force of a 2,700 projectile.

LEGISLATION BANNING UNRESTRAINED PETS

Although Oklahoma currently doesn’t have a law banning a driver from holding a pet on his or her lap, Hawaii does, and other states like Connecticut, Arizona and Maine have broader distracted driving laws that could be used to penalize drivers for driving with a pet on their lap. Lawmakers in Rhode Island are considering legislation that would make it illegal for motorists to drive with their pets on their laps, in a comprehensive effort to crack down on distracted drivers. Violators of the distracted driving law would receive an $85 fine for a first offense, a $100 fine for a second offense, and a $125 fine for subsequent offenses. To prevent distracted driving and serious harm caused by an unrestrained pet in a vehicle, AAA recommends that all pet owners use pet restraint systems while driving. “Restraints not only limit distractions, but also protect you, your pet and other passengers in the event of a crash or sudden stop,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma.

CONSULT OUR CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS FOR LEGAL HELP

As this information suggests, distracted driving can come in many different shapes and forms. If you have been injured in an Oklahoma accident caused by distracted driving, or if you lost a loved one in such an accident, contact our skilled car accident attorneys at Atkins & Markoff today. You may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit against the person found to be at-fault in the accident, in order to pursue financial compensation for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our law firm is located in Oklahoma City, and our lawyers are experienced in protecting the rights of car accident victims in Oklahoma. Contact Atkins & Markoff today for a free consultation.