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Pets and driving: a dangerous mix?

We all know that distraction on the roads comes in all forms, but the typical idea that comes to mind is residents in and around Norman using electronics, such as a cellphone or radio, while driving. Although this has been a key issue that needs to be addressed, it has not stopped communities from targeting other forms of distraction. In general, the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration considers distracted driving anything that takes a person's concentration or eyes off the road, or hands off the steering wheel.

A recent study put a spotlight on the dangers of driving with a pet in the car. Researchers specifically concentrated on drivers who are 70 years of age or older, though the findings could likely be a learning lesson for all age groups. The study found that seniors who regularly have a pet in their car while driving double their chances of being in a car accident

Although there has been plenty of regulation in terms of texting and talking on the phone while driving, only one state reportedly has a law that centers on pets in the vehicle. Hawaii law restricts pets from being in the lap of a driver while the vehicle is moving, or from obstructing the driver's view in general. Researchers hope that more studies into this topic may lead to new regulations in Oklahoma and across the country.

No matter the age of the driver, negligent behavior behind the wheel, whether it be texting or having a dog in their lap, can lead to tragic consequences. The choice to concentrate on something besides the roadway, even for one second, can affect the lives of everyone in the vehicle and on the road.

Source: CarrierManagement.com, "Seniors driving with their dogs get in more auto accidents: University study," May 7, 2013

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