Motor Vehicle Accidents

Do Pets Have to Be Restrained When Driving in Kansas?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 2022 Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, there were 128 million pet-owning households in the US. An estimated 45% of these residences owned dogs, and 26% had cats.

That’s a lot of pets.

And, for many pet owners, our furry companions are more than just pets, they’re part of the family, joining us on road trips, errands, and daily commutes.

However, when it comes to traveling with pets in the car, safety should be a top priority. In Kansas, like many other states, best practices regarding pets in vehicles aim to protect both human occupants and animals from harm.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss whether pets need to be restrained when driving in Kansas and why it’s important to prioritize their safety on the road.

Kansas Law

In Kansas, there are currently no specific laws that explicitly require pets to be restrained while traveling in a vehicle. Unlike some states that have implemented regulations mandating the use of pet restraints or carriers, Kansas does not have such statutes in place.

However, this doesn’t mean that pet owners in Kansas are exempt from ensuring the safety of their furry passengers.

Prioritizing Pet Safety

While there aren’t specific laws regarding pet restraint in vehicles, responsible pet owners must recognize the importance of keeping their animals secure while driving.

A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that in 600 dog-related motor vehicle accidents, 31% of dogs ended up with superficial wounds. Among the remaining 410 dogs, 87% were diagnosed with skeletal injuries and 27% with soft organ damage.

Driving with unrestrained pets can pose several dangers, both to the pet and to the occupants of the vehicle:

  • Distraction: Unrestrained pets can be a significant distraction for the driver. They may climb onto the driver’s lap, obstruct their view, or interfere with their ability to operate the vehicle safely, leading to serious car accidents and injuries. A quick distraction may not seem like a big deal, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 3,300 people died in vehicle-related accidents due to distracted driving in 2022.
  • Loss of Control: A pet moving freely inside the vehicle can cause the driver to lose control, especially if the pet suddenly jumps onto the driver or interferes with the steering wheel or pedals.
  • Injury to the Pet: In the event of a sudden stop or a collision, unrestrained pets can be thrown around inside the vehicle, leading to injuries such as broken bones, internal injuries, or even fatalities.
  • Injury to Passengers: Unrestrained pets can also pose a risk to other passengers in the vehicle. In a collision, a pet could become a projectile, potentially causing serious injuries to human occupants.
  • Escape: An unrestrained pet may escape from the vehicle if a door or window is opened, leading to the pet becoming lost or injured.
  • Legal Consequences: In some states, driving with unrestrained pets can lead to legal consequences, such as fines or citations, particularly if the pet’s behavior contributes to an accident. If you’re making an out-of-state trip with your pet, be sure to know the laws in the areas you’re traveling to.

Best Practices for Traveling With Your Furry Companions

Some of the most effective ways to protect our pets while traveling in a car is by using appropriate practices, restraints, or carriers designed specifically for animals.

These can include:

  • Using a Pet Seat Belt or Harness: Just like humans, pets should be secured with a seat belt or harness while in a moving vehicle. There are specially designed pet seat belts and harnesses that can be attached to the car’s seat belt system to keep the pet restrained.
  • Using a Pet Carrier: Another option is to use a pet carrier or crate that is securely fastened in the vehicle. Make sure the carrier is large enough for the pet to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Secure the carrier so it cannot shift or move during sudden stops or turns. Place the pet carrier or restraint in the back seat of the vehicle rather than the front seat. This reduces the risk of injury to the pet and minimizes distractions for the driver.
  • Familiarizing Your Pet: Introduce your pet to the carrier or restraint gradually before your trip. Let them get used to being in it while the car is stationary and gradually increase the duration of these sessions.
  • Securing Loose Items: Before driving, ensure that any loose pet items in the car that could become projectiles during sudden stops or turns are secured or stored away. This includes toys, leashes, or other pet accessories.
  • Consider a Barrier: For larger pets, consider using a pet barrier to keep them confined to the cargo area of the vehicle. This prevents them from jumping into the front seat and interfering with the driver.

Benefits of Pet Restraints

Using pet restraints offers several benefits beyond just compliance with the law.

First and foremost, restraints help prevent pets from roaming freely inside the vehicle, minimizing distractions for the driver and reducing the likelihood of accidents.

In the event of a crash or sudden maneuver, restraints can also provide a layer of protection for pets, reducing the risk of injury or ejection from the vehicle.

Choosing the Right Restraint

When selecting a pet restraint for your vehicle, it’s essential to choose one that is appropriate for your pet’s size, breed, and behavior.

For smaller pets, a well-secured travel crate or pet carrier may be sufficient, providing a comfortable and secure environment during travel. Larger dogs may benefit from a seat belt harness that attaches to the vehicle’s seat belt system, allowing them to sit or lie down safely while restrained.

Ensuring Comfort and Compliance

Introducing your pet to a restraint system gradually and ensuring their comfort and compliance is essential for successful travel. Start by acclimating your pet to the restraint during short trips or practice sessions, offering positive reinforcement and rewards for calm behavior. Be patient and consistent, and never force your pet into a restraint if they show signs of distress or discomfort.

More Tips for Safe Travel With Dogs and Cats

In addition to using pet restraints, there are several other tips pet owners can follow to ensure safe travel with their furry companions. These include:

  •  Taking Breaks: If you’re going on a long trip, plan regular breaks to give your pet a chance to stretch their legs, use the bathroom, and have some water and food.
  • Avoid Leaving Pets Unattended: Never leave a pet unattended in a parked vehicle, especially in hot weather. Even with the windows cracked open, temperatures inside a parked car can quickly become dangerously high, leading to heatstroke or even death.
  • Never allow pets to ride with their heads out of windows. Yes, it’s adorable, and they love it, but it can also lead to injuries from flying debris or accidents.

An American Automobile Association (AAA) survey revealed that while more than 80% of drivers recognize the dangers of driving with an unrestrained pet, only 16% choose to use pet restraints. One in five of the surveyed admitted to driving with their pet in their lap.

While Kansas may not have specific laws requiring pets to be restrained when driving,  we should all prioritize their safety and well-being on the road as pet owners.

By using appropriate restraints, following best practices, and taking additional safety precautions, pet owners can help minimize distractions, reduce the risk of accidents, and ensure a comfortable and secure travel experience for their beloved animals.

Remember, when it comes to traveling with pets, safety should always come first.

If you have been in a crash in Kansas that you can attribute to someone not adequately restraining their pet, you may meet the grounds for filing a civil lawsuit against that individual who struck and hurt you. At Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska LLC, we’re here to help you understand your rights after a preventable crash.

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Our highly qualified and compassionate team is available to listen and evaluate your case. We do not charge any fees unless we win. Call us at (800) 266-0036 to get started!

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