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Getting There: In a car, pets may be more of a distraction than kids

A dog riding shotgun in a car on East 29th AVE leans out the window and lets the wind catch its fur, during a break of early afternoon sun on Tuesday, July 3, 2012, in Spokane, Wash. A new poll out of Seattle finds that pets may be more distracting to drivers than rowdy children. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
A dog riding shotgun in a car on East 29th AVE leans out the window and lets the wind catch its fur, during a break of early afternoon sun on Tuesday, July 3, 2012, in Spokane, Wash. A new poll out of Seattle finds that pets may be more distracting to drivers than rowdy children. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A new poll out of Seattle finds that barking dogs are more distracting than rambunctious children while driving.

“Northwesterners are known for their love of furry companions, but the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance finds that Washington residents think pet passengers pose a greater distraction for drivers than kids in the car,” according to a news release from the company.

Released last week, the poll found that 43 percent of drivers in Washington rated “barking, licking and tail-chasing pets” as more distracting than unruly children.

As for the kids, about a third of drivers said they were the greater distraction.

Oregon drivers were a little harsher on children, saying pets and kids can be equally distracting.

The poll had some other curious findings.

About half of Northwest drivers surveyed in the poll admitted to driving with an unrestrained pet. About a third of those said they had allowed the pet to roam at will, even climbing into their laps while they were driving.

PEMCO has been commissioning independent polls for years to call attention to various issues on the road, especially issues that might pose hazards.

“There’s no question we love our pets here in the Northwest,” said Derek Wing, a PEMCO spokesman. “That’s why we were surprised to learn that so many Northwest drivers put themselves and their four-legged friends at risk by driving with unrestrained pets in the car.”

He noted that having an unrestrained pet in the vehicle is not a primary traffic offense.

In a 30 mph crash, “a 60-pound dog can slam into you with 2,700 pounds of force – enough to cause severe damage to you and your precious pet. So, just like humans, pets need their own special seat belts and other protections to keep everyone as safe as possible on the road,” Wing said.

Here are some tips from PEMCO:

Restrain your pet in a well-ventilated carrier that can be secured with a seat belt.

Place pets and carriers in the back seat.

Keep dogs from putting their heads out of open windows. That can lead to injuries from debris or insects.

Don’t let pets ride in the pickup bed. In a serious crash, even a crated dog has minimal protection, PEMCO said.

Check with your vet on issues that might arise from an unhappy animal passenger.

In the city

On Division Street in Spokane, crews are building sidewalk ramps and adjusting utility covers in advance of repaving from Francis Avenue to the Division “Y.”

Daytime lane restrictions are in place for northbound traffic from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and southbound traffic from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition, lane restrictions will run during off-peak hours from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Crews are finishing up the repairs to Interstate 90 in the vicinity of Division to Altamont streets. The work may cause some nighttime lane restrictions.

To the west, repaving of I-90 from Fishtrap to Sprague Lake may cause lane restrictions.

To the south, work will start Aug. 2 on construction of six passing lanes on U.S. Highway 195 from Spangle to Colfax.

Four of the passing lanes will serve northbound traffic and two will serve southbound traffic.

A big state paving and bridge-repair project on Trent Avenue from Mission Avenue to Sullivan Road gets started Monday.

Reports from East Sprague Avenue say that work on the street east of Napa Street has finished and traffic is flowing normally.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction at the Spokane River bridge just east of Pines Road.

State Highway 904 is undergoing repaving and sidewalk work from Betz to Mullenix roads.

Closure planned for Lincoln Street

In Spokane, work on a sewer holding tank will result in the closure of Lincoln Street from Summit Parkway to Boone Avenue.

However, Summit Parkway from Monroe to Lincoln streets will be open for traffic.

Work continues on new sidewalks and curb extensions on Division and Browne streets from Sprague to Spokane Falls Boulevard.

Maxwell Avenue is getting new pavement from Washington to Maple streets. Maxwell will be closed from Washington to Howard streets during daytime work hours.

The second round of final paving on Lincoln and Monroe from Main to Second avenues will happen July 31.


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