Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Dogs don’t drive: they don’t need to be in the driver’s seat

A smaller dog on the lap could move into a position that would entangle it in the steering wheel

By Tim Schewe

Your dog may be licenced, but it isn’t a licence to drive a vehicle, reminds a reader. This person was concerned about the number of human drivers that drive with their pets riding in a position that might interfere with their control over the vehicle. They are correct, it’s not a good idea, even with small animals.

Section 195 of the Motor Vehicle Act requires that a driver must not cause their vehicle to move on a highway if their control over them or their view to the front or sides is obstructed in any manner.

The large dog standing on the rear seat with head and shoulders out the driver’s window is certainly a vision obstruction. How could you possibly make a proper shoulder check to the left? Similarly, a smaller dog on the lap could easily move into a position that would entangle it in the steering wheel, probably at the worst possible time.

We wouldn’t think of doing this with our children anymore, why do it with a pet? Restraint harnesses are now available to protect your pet in case of a collision if you choose to use them. Keeping your furry friend safely out of your way would be an added bonus.

The safest place for both children and pets is in the back seat.

A veterinary web site I reviewed agrees with the use of pet restraints, advising that dogs can become aggressive after a collision and attack first responders. This could hinder timely help from them if you need it.

While we are on the subject, the same rule applies to human passengers. They must not occupy any position in the vehicle that would interfere with the driver’s control over any of the vehicle’s mechanisms.

This story would not be complete without including the airbag in our consideration. I would not like to have it deploy with anything between it and myself! In one case that I could find in Nanaimo, a dog was seriously injured by a driver’s side airbag that deployed in a crash. Fortunately, the driver did not suffer the same fate.

I return to this point again and again in my Road Safety for Seniors classes: read and heed all the information in the owner’s manual about supplemental restraint systems (SRS).

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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