The Cassidy Law Firm Blog

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Distracted Driving and Your Pets

Is it illegal in New Jersey to drive with your dog on your lap?

Distracted driving can come in many forms. While texting and driving is the most obvious form of distracted driving, an often overlooked, but dangerous behavior involves your furry friend. Many of us enjoy bringing our dogs in the car. Drivers with smaller dogs may be tempted to put their pooch on their lap as they drive. In the state of New Jersey, however, driving with your dog in your lap is not just dangerous, it is also illegal. Our New Jersey personal injury lawyers explore the many types of distracted driving and safety when traveling with your pet below.

Types of Driving Distractions

Driver distractions can fall in three different categories. Distractions include:

  1. Visual distractions: taking your eyes off the road ahead;

  2. Manual distractions: removing your hands from the wheel; and

  3. Cognitive distractions: taking your mind off the task of driving.

There are several behaviors that can fall in one or more of these categories of distractions. Talking on the phone, for example, can pull your hands and mind off the road. Texting while driving causes all three levels of distraction, drawing your eyes, hands, and mind from driving. Eating in the car may involve manual distraction, while personal grooming is typically a form of visual and manual distraction. Driving with your pets in the car can potentially distract you on all levels, particularly if the dog or other pet is loose in the vehicle.

New Jersey’s Law on Driving With Your Pet

Most states have laws that ban texting while driving. A few states have taken it a step further to ban use of your phone entirely. New Jersey is one of only two states, along with Hawaii, to ban driving with your pet on your lap. In New Jersey, driving with a pet loose in the car is a violation of the law. Drivers who do not secure their pet in the vehicle can face a ticket ranging from $250 to $1,000.

To ensure your safety and the safety of your pet, you will need to secure your pet as you drive. You can potentially use a dog harness which will secure your pet in the back seat. Alternatively, you can crate your dog in the rear of the vehicle or purchase a barrier to keep your pet in the back. If you were involved in a car accident with a driver that was distracted by their pup, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a personal injury attorney from The Cassidy Law Firm to schedule a consultation.


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