Distracted Driving Law doesn’t like dogs

distracted driving dog

Think twice before taking your pooch with you!

Everyone knows that dogs love car rides. Or at least, most do. But there’s a new distracted driving law in Ohio that pet owners should now be aware of before they take their pooch on another trip. Distracted drivers are a major problem on the roads, and this new law in Mantua, Ohio, is working towards addressing it. The new law makes it illegal to hold an animal or allow a pet to restrict their ability to drive safely. It also makes cellphone use while driving a primary offense.

But, why?

For a moment, it seems a little weird to put a restriction on how to drive with your pet in the vehicle. But at the same time, don’t we do that with people? There are seat belt laws that do exactly that for people! We have our passengers seated and buckled in securely. Why wouldn’t we do this for our four-legged family members, too? If you’ve ever known someone with small children, you know how riled up and distracting they can be.

Driving distracted with kids in the car is dangerous, and this goes for your animals, too!

Keeping them strapped into a car seat means that as a driver, you don’t have to worry about them climbing somewhere they shouldn’t go to distract you from driving! Traveling with a pet is just like having an unpredictable child in the car. You never know what they’re going to do. In response, some drivers will just opt to hold the animal on their lap, or position the animal in the passenger seat beside them and hold their collar to secure them in place. It’s not exactly the safe or secure choice. Drivers that do this might not think much about what they’re doing, but they are distracted!

How big of a deal is the distracted driving law?

You really don’t want to get in trouble for this one. First-time distracted drivers will be issued a minor misdemeanor. If you violate it twice in one year, or if the violation led to a crash that resulted in an injury, a third-degree misdemeanor will be issued. But this is more than just about protecting yourself from tickets, think about the dogs, cats and other pets that are on the roads at any given time. Don’t you want to protect them?

How do I keep my pet safe and secure?

Now you’re talking! Different people and pets have different needs, so you’ll need to figure out what works for your situation.

  • Crates tend to be the best overall option for ensuring your animal’s safety while driving. There’s a whole market dedicated to certified crash-tested crates to protect your pet. Some of them even come with crash bags inside to provide extra protection in the event of emergency braking!
  • Dog harness seat belts are good for well-behaved dogs that can sit still in a single position.
  • A zipline harness is designed for active or young dogs that struggle to get settled. The zipline restrains them to the seat while allowing some moving around.
  • Plush carry boxes can be a good option for small, anxious puppies since it elevates them and gives them a better view of their owner and surrounding. You can also use it in conjunction with a dog harness.
  • Back seat hammocks can be helpful for older dogs who want to lie down. The hammock prevents them from falling off the seat and stops them from climbing into the front. It also keeps pet hair off your car seat!
  • Back-seat barriers can be a good option for dogs who struggle to relax when they’re restrained. The barrier keeps your dog in the back seat so they don’t distract you, and it also keeps them from flying too far forward if you brake suddenly.


This blog post was written by Kayla Hekimian-Williams, Director of Education.