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Fido Can Be As Bad A Distraction As Texting While You’re Driving

You can add pets to the list of driver distractions that can lead to accidents, according to the AAA.

A recent survey by AAA and Kurgo found that one in five respondents admitted to driving with a dog in their lap. Since Kurgo makes pet-restraint products, some skeptics might question the objectivity of this survey. Is Kurgo just looking to sell more pet harnesses?

But despite that, the survey results seem kosher to us.

In a press release, the AAA said that while people often like to take their “canine companions” on errands with them, “in a vehicle this can mean added distractions for the driver.”

AAA and Kurgo asked dog owners how often they drive with their dog and about their habits behind the wheel. “The survey found that drivers not only love to bring Fido along, but they also often engage in risky behaviors when man’s best friend is along for the ride,” according to the press release.

Thirty-one percent of the survey respondents admitted to being distracted by their dog while driving. And 59 percent have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog, according to the survey.

More than half (55 percent) have pet their dog while driving, and one in five allowed their dog to sit in their lap (21 percent).

Other distracting behaviors drivers admitted to include giving food and water to their dog (7 percent) and playing with their dog (5 percent). These behaviors can distract the driver and increase the risk of a crash.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash.

An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents stated that they have driven with their pets on a variety of car trips including day trips, local errands and leisure trips, the pet store, dog parks and to work. However only 17 percent use any form of pet restraint system when driving with their dog.

“Use of a pet restraint system, such as those available from Kurgo, can aid in limiting distractions and help protect your pet,” the press release says.

“Restraining your pet when driving can not only help protect your pet, but you and other passengers in your vehicle as well,”  said Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA National, Traffic Safety Programs manager “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 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path.”

Here’s where the press release gives us the full hard sell from Kurgo.

“There are a variety of reasonably priced products available to help dog owners reduce distractions their pets might cause while driving while keeping them safe,” it says. ” There have been many recent innovations in this market from Kurgo and others to make these products more comfortable for the dog and convenient to use for the owner. AAA recommends owners utilize a restraint system anytime they are driving with their pet—even close to home. Pet restraint products, such as those from Kurgo, are available at local pet stores nationwide. To find a dealer near you, visit”

I wasn’t aware of it, but AAA offers a variety of services for pet owenrs. For example, it has a book for those who plan to take their pets on a trip, entited “Traveling with Your Pet: The AAA PetBook,” which includes pet-friendly AAA Approved property listings and advice on transporting pets.

 The book also features information on how to enter the annual AAA PetBook Photo Contest sponsored by Best Western. Entry deadline is Nov. 30 and the winning pets will appear on a cover of the next edition. To enter, visit

AAA members can also save on services for their pet through the Show Your Card & Save program. Members save 10 percent on pet supplies at and 10 percent on pet-sitting and dog-walking services at home or on the road with Fetch! Pet Care.

Prescriptions for family pets that can be filled at a traditional pharmacy may also be eligible for a AAA discount. 


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