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Pets are put on same danger level as cellphones in New Jersey

Distracted driving remains the hot topic and a major cause of car accidents across the country. When a person hears the term distracted driving, the image of a cellphone probably comes to mind. However, that is not the only distracting behavior that can lead to a serious crash. Safety officials in New Jersey are putting pets on the same level on the danger scale as mobile devices.

Bringing your pet along with you in a vehicle is not dangerous. It is when a driver allows the pet to roam the vehicle, unrestrained that the danger comes about. Have you ever seen a dog with the head out the driver's window and thought, "are you crazy?"

"We don't want dogs driving with the steering wheel and we don't want cats who sit on the dashboard," said a spokeswoman with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

What is interesting is that specific laws already exist that prohibit dogs from riding with their heads out of an open window or roaming free in the back of a pickup truck, and drivers could face fines from $250 to $1,000 per offense. Some feel though that the laws have been put on the back burner when it comes to enforcement.

Allowing animals to roam free not only causes the driver of their vehicle to become distracted, but it can be considered cruelty to animals. What happens when a dog that has his ears blowing in the wind sees a squirrel on the side of the road? He may jump out of the window and not only land in front of another vehicle, but they could also become seriously injured.

Source: WGMD, "NJ Drivers Ordered to Buckle up Pets Or Face Criminal Charges," Kelli Steele, June 5, 2012

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