Dog Road Rules…Dog Car Safety Need to Know

Taking a drive with your pup can be lots of fun, but did you know that your dog can get you a citation for not being restrained in the car too???

A LOT of Hawaii residents are unaware that it is illegal to drive your vehicle without your dog secured adequately inside and outside your car

Let’s take a look at the two laws and some thoughts on why each is important.

Sec. 291C-124 (b) Driving with animal on lap (Hawaii revised statues): While operating a motor vehicle, no person shall hold in the person’s lap, or allow to be in the driver’s immediate area, any person, animal or object which interferes with the driver’s control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle. Citation fine: $97.00

So you might be thinking, what’s the big deal with my dog being on my lap? Well, if your pup is a wiggle worm while you’re driving around, it could easily cause you to swerve onto a different lane and maybe into a car next to you. Have you ever driven with your dog on your lap? You know that this can and has probably happened to you before.

Next, let’s think about the worse case scenario…let’s say (God forbid) you get into a collision in which the driver’s side airbag (aka the steering wheel airbag) deploys. You will have the force of the airbag going full speed at you, but now you get to have your pup added to that, in which the power and speed of the bag (roughly about 200 miles per hour at a force of 2000 pounds) can cause you additional injuries and kill your dog too. 

Just sit back and think about that for a second…can you imagine having your dog come at your chest/abdominal area at 200 miles per hour???

What if you don’t have a small dog that rides in your lap, not to fear, there is a law for you too:

Sec. 15-24.22 (b) Carrying animal in vehicle improperly (Revised Ordinances in Hawaii): No dog or any other animal shall be transported on any public street or highway in any vehicle unless such animal is totally enclosed within such vehicle, within a secured container carried upon such vehicle, or securely cross-tethered to such vehicle in such a way as to prevent the animal from falling out or off such vehicle, and to prevent injury to the animal. Citation fine: $57.00

So when your pup is free-roaming in the car and jumping back and forth, you all know very well that you become distracted to get him/her to settle down. Like texting, you tend to look away and no longer are paying attention to driving, quickly allowing an accident to happen. 

Another thing to consider is, do you know what your dog becomes in the event of an accident? Your dog will become a projectile flying at full force. Much like a human unrestrained can go flying through the windshield and or be ejected from the vehicle, so can your dog!

Say your driving around, with the windows rolled down and your pup has their head hanging out to feel the wind in their face, next thing you know they jump out the window, and now you have to slam on the breaks, pull over and locate your dog that could easily be injured or killed by oncoming traffic. The same can be said if your dog is traveling in the bed of the truck. It’s happened before and will continue to occur if the owners do not take proper safety measurements. Tragedies like these scenarios can be avoided by responsible dog ownership.

How do you solve the potential problem? There are lots of inexpensive and straightforward methods to keep our pups safe when in the car with us. There’s safety belt restraints, harnesses that you can safely slip the seat belt through, dog booster seats with seat restraints, soft travel kennels and more.

Many of these car safety restraints and devices can be found locally at Petco, Petsmart, Petland, TJ Maxx, and online too.

Always make sure to use a harness when securing your dog in a vehicle and DO NOT attach any restraints to their collar. In the event of an accident, a harness will restrain their body when properly attached. Attaching a restraint to a collar could break your dog’s neck in an accident.

A lot of us think of our dogs as not only our pets, but as ohana, and you should consider their safety too when riding in a car. If you aren’t risking your safety, why risk their’s?

So the next time you get into the car on your next adventure with your dog, remember that “Click It or Ticket” goes for you and your pup too!

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