9/17/2013 - Researchers: Driving with dogs not recommended
While they may seem to serve as an ideal traveling companion, a recent study suggests that pets may be best left at home instead of in the passenger seat - particularly for senior citizens.
Analysts from the University of Alabama Birmingham recently released some information that points to the increased risk of elderly motorists being involved in an accident when they have a dog in the car. After analyzing about 2,000 licensed drivers - all of whom were over the age of 65 - they discovered that those who always rode in the car with their pet were two times more likely to be involved in an accident than those who traveled alone.
Gerald McGwin, senior author of the UAB study, noted that while safety experts have focused much of their attention on cellphone use and how they can cause driver distraction, they may want to expand their center of attention.
"There is no direct evidence that driving with pets is or is not a threat to public safety," said McGwin. "However, indirect evidence exists based on distracted driving research on texting, eating or interacting with electronics or even other passengers."
Distracted driving in all its forms is increasingly becoming one of the biggest safety issues on the road today, responsible for numerous auto insurance claims. According to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Department of Transportation, a substantial number of the 34,000 highway fatalities last year were attributable to multitasking behind the wheel.