Saturday, September 22, 2012

NJ May Become First State to Require Seat Belts for Pets

A New Jersey assemblywoman wants to make seat belts mandatory for family pets. Assemblywoman Grace Spencer has introduced a bill that would require motorists to secure dogs and cats in a seat belt-like harness if they’re not being transported in crates.

Drivers found to be disobeying the proposed law would get a $20 ticket. Some could also be charged with animal cruelty, an offense with a fine of up to $1,000. If enacted, New Jersey would have the toughest animal seat belt law in the United States.

Just last week, a New Jersey couple was killed in an accident involving an unsecured dog. Naglaa H. Armanious of East Brunswick lost control of her vehicle and struck five pedestrians as they were walking home from a religious service. An investigation has shown that a pet dog owned by the driver was in the car at the time and might have been a contributing factor in the crash.

Like unbuckled humans, unsecured pets can act as potentially dangerous projectiles if not buckled up during a car accident. According to Bark Buckle Up, a 60-pound dog becomes a projectile of 2,700 pounds at just 35 mph.

There's also a distraction factor at play. Almost one in five drivers who travel with dogs said they’ve removed their hands from the wheel to keep a pet from the front seat, according to a 2011 poll conducted by AAA. Twenty-three percent said they’ve held a dog in place while braking.

Some safety advocates are enthusiastic about the legislation, but other New Jersey politicians are less excited. Assemblyman Jay Webber calls the bill “busybody government at its best.” Webber has also introduced a measure to clarify that failure to restrain an animal isn't equivalent to inhumane treatment.

Sources: Huffington Post, BusinessWeek, Asbury Park Press
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  1. I really think it's a good idea to have your dog secured in case of an accident, both for YOUR safety and the safety of those around you, in addition to the dog.

  2. Now that's a law worth having. Pets are also a part of the family. They should also be given importance and also ensure their safety when traveling. I hope that the other states will follow if this law will be approved into legislation.