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New law could keep pets off drivers' laps in Asheville

You love taking your pet in the car, but you always make sure he's not in your lap or a distraction to you. There are different kinds of grating and devices designed to keep pets safe and out of the way during drives. Still, you see other drivers with pets in their laps all the time. It's dangerous, and that is changing in North Carolina.

A new law draws attention to the risks

Driving with a pet in your lap makes it harder to steer. Even the best-behaved dog might lose its footing or get in the way while you drive. Focusing on a pet in your lap distracts you, too. Your pooch wants to enjoy your company, but the risks don't outweigh the benefits. Slam on the brakes too hard and the dog gets hurt. If the airbag deploys, he could suffer injuries from the airbag and die on impact. Even worse, drivers who look away to take care of their pets might cause an accident that injures or kills other drivers and passengers.

The alternatives keep pets safe

It's not just people who are at risk when pets aren't in their own seats. Besides causing distractions, pets could suffer injuries in an accident. Without a leash or secured crate, the pet could hit the windshield, front console, suffer injuries from impacts in the vehicle or be thrown from the vehicle in a collision. Securing pets keeps them appropriately seated, and in a collision, they have a better chance of surviving.

Alternatives like pet harnesses with seatbelt attachments, seatbelt-secured crates, backseat hammock-styled barriers and other options make it easy to keep pets safe in the back seat away from the driver.

Drivers who drive distracted can face penalties

Whether it's a truck driver who travels with a pet Labrador or a teenager taking her pooch for a trip, driving with animals in their laps distracts them. In an accident, the victim can seek compensation for his or her injuries, especially when the driver was not paying attention to the road or was distracted by things going on in his or her vehicle.

If this bill passes, no pets will be allowed in drivers' laps, taking one more distraction out of the mix. Even with laws, though, some people don't change. The potential for an accident still exists. That accident could result in injuries that you suffer from for years to come. This is why those who suffer at the hands of distracted drivers have every right to look into their legal options.

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