Safety First

Study: Unrestrained pets cause heart rate spikes, increase likelihood of a fatal car crash

We now know how much of a distraction unrestrained pets cause, thanks to a new study from The Harris Poll and Volvo Car USA.

Photo by Getty Images

Fido may love to hold his head out the window and sniff every passing car and yard as you drive by, but this is not safe for you, him, or anyone else on the road. A new study provides quantifiable proof of the hazards of driving with an unrestrained pet.

Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll conducted an online survey in March 2019 and an observational study from June-July 2019 to assess the impact of unrestrained pets – pets not restrained with a seat belt or harness or in a crate or carrier while in a moving vehicle. For the study, 15 licensed drivers who each drive with their dog at least 25 minutes per day were observed for an average of 2 hours each, for a total of about 30 hours of total study time.

Restrainted Pets seat belt safety harness Pets that were restrained while in the car proved less of a hazard to drivers, the study found.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

The dogs were restrained for 56 percent of the time and unrestrained the rest of the time.

The results of the survey and study were published in Volvo Reports: Keeping Pets Safe on the Road. The study found three reasons why not restraining your pet is detrimental.

It increases unsafe driving behaviors.

During the half of the study when the dogs were restrained, 16 hours 48 minutes, there were 274 instances of the dogs doing something unsafe such as putting their head out the window or climbing on the driver's lap. This comes out to an average of 16.3 instances of unsafe driving behavior per hour – about once every 3.5 minutes.

For 13 hours 12 minutes of observation time the dogs were unrestrained and racked up 649 instances of the dogs doing something unsafe – an average of 49.2 instances of unsafe driving behavior per hour, nearly once every 1.2 minutes.

This showed that unrestrained dogs were three times more likely to exhibit unsafe behaviors than restrained dogs while riding in a vehicle.

It increases driver distraction.

When not restrained, dogs can do things such as jumping from one seat to another, which often results in the driver focusing on their pet and not the road. Unrestrained dogs resulted in 3 hours 39 minutes of distracted driving over the course of the 13 hours 12 minutes (27.7% of the time).

Restraining dogs cut distracted driving to 1 hour 39 minutes over the course of the 16.8 hours (9.8% of the time).

The results indicated that drivers whose pets are unrestrained are 2.8 times more likely to be distracted are drivers whose pets are restrained.

Unrestrained pets Unrestrained pets cause a major distracted driving hazard, a new study has revealed.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

According to the National Highway Transportation Administration 3,000 people die each year from distracted driving. Erie Insurance, in conjunction with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, analyzed 2010 and 2011 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) crash data and found that a moving object (such as a pet) is one of the top ten distractions involved in fatal car crashes.

It increases stress on dogs and drivers.

According to the website Dogtime: "Puppies can have resting pulse rates of 160 to 200 beats per minute when they are born, which can go as high as 220 beats per minute at two weeks of age. Up to 180 beats per minute may be normal until a year of age. Large adult dogs can have a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute, while small adult dogs can have a normal heart rate of 100 to 140 beats per minute."

When not restrained, dogs' heart rates were faster than their normal heart rates by 7 beats per minute. This may not seem like much, especially for puppies who already have high resting pulse rates, but why add stress to your pet unnecessarily?

Likewise, drivers were also more stressed when their dogs were not restrained. The average human heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute. When their dogs were not restrained, the drivers' heart rates increased by 28-34 per minute, as much as 1.5 times higher than normal.

Unrestrainted pets Volvo is one of the auto manufacturers now offering pet-specific restraint systems that can be purchased with and installed in a new vehicle.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

In a press release, Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, Staff Criticalist at Cornell University Veterinary Specialists, urges the importance of restraining your pets in the car.

"While pets roaming around the car can be cute and convenient, it poses a serious risk for both drivers and their pets, both in terms of causing distractions and increasing the chances of serious injury in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, in my field, we see the potential devastating consequences regularly, many of which can [be] avoided by simply ensuring our animals are safely secured."

The Volvo Car USA/The Harris Poll report found that "32% of pet owners have left a dog at home because they felt their car was not safe enough" and "77% of Americans says people don't vehicular dog safety seriously enough".

Lindsey Wolko took her pet's safety in the car seriously – she bought her dog Maggie a safety harness. Maggie was wearing this safety harness when Wolko was driving and had to brake suddenly, but the harness didn't work properly and Maggie was injured. Through this experience, Wolko was inspired to found The Center for Pet Safety (CPS), a non-profit research and consumer advocacy organization, in July 2011.

Volvo pet safety rear carrier Volvo's pet safety system is mounted directly to the frame of the vehicle giving it a high level of structural integrity.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

CPS crash tests pet car safety restraints. Restraints which meet CPS's standards are approved as CPS Certified. CPS has only third-party restraints on its list, yet some vehicle manufacturers are also creating pet car safety restraints.

Volvo has a line of pet safety accessories which includes a dog gate, dog harness, load compartment divider, and protective steel grille. These accessories integrate into the car's safety system. For each one of these accessories sold, Volvo donates $10 to The Petfinder Foundation, which promotes pet adoption.

Trending News

 
 

The 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan goes on sale in 2022

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The pinnacle of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class lineup, the 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan will make its way to U.S. shores in early 2022, bringing with it 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.

Distinct features set this Mercedes-Maybach apart from others including a Maybach-exclusive front bumper, engine hood trim strip, illuminated seamless door handles, and stainless steel illuminated panels. Buyers can request a two-tone paint job from their choice of 10 different color combinations.

The flagship model's power plant is a 6.0-liter V12 biturbo engine that gets it from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The all-wheel drive sedan is able to deliver up to 31 percent of its toque to the front axle and 69 percent to the rear. Mercedes touts the car's rear-axle steering, which makes the model easy to drive on city streets. A special “Maybach" dynamic selects drive mode comes standard on the car.

2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan The car has an available panoramic sunroof.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has fine-tuned the car to include active road noise compensation that the automaker refers to as headphones with noise suppression. The automaker says that the technology works like headphone systems with noise suppression tech by using counter-phased sound waves to balance out exterior sound waves. The technology is deployed via the car's Burmeister High-End 4D Surround Sound System.

The inside of the car also gets Nappa Leather upholstery and finishes including on the headliner, dashboard, instrument panel surrounds, armrests, glovebox, window frames, pillars, sun visors, backrest pockets, and door sill panel inserts. The rear seats feature diamond quilting, contrast piping, and the Mercedes-Maybach emblem. There's also wood trim, a Maybach pedal cluster, and Maybach-specific scent.

Owners can use the electronically-powered comfort doors at the rear, which can be controlled via a button or hand gesture. The same goes for the power sliding panoramic sunroof.

2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan The 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S 680 4Matic Sedan's interior is luxe.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Adaptive rear lighting in the back seat of the car changes the LED spotlights' position and size. This allows for everything from reading lights to lounge-style lighting.

Two 11.6-inch high-resolution entertainment screens sit in behind the front seats. Between the rear seats are available silver-plated champagne flutes and a refrigerated compartment. Two matching holders in the center console hold the flutes in place when the car is on the move.

Mercedes has installed new rear seat airbags are designed to deploy in a gentle manner when needed.

Trending News

 
 

Roundabouts are safer than traffic lights according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Photo by Pete Ark/Getty Images

New information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) points out that roundabouts are safer than traffic signals and stop signs. Roundabouts are one of 20 evidence-based safety countermeasures recommended by the Federal Highway Administration.

Studies of intersections in the United States converted from traffic signals or stop signs to roundabouts have found reductions in injury crashes of 72-80 percent and reductions in all crashes of 35-47 percent.

The logic comes down to engineering. The tight circle of a roundabout requires drivers to slow down so they can safety maneuver around the circle. Because of the ingress and egress of the roundabout's design, right-angle, left-turn, and head-on collisions are unlikely.

roundabout Europe Traffic circles, rotaries, and roundabouts are common all over the world.Photo by supergenijalac/Getty Images

Modern roundabouts build on the traditional rotary design. According to IIHS, the new style of roundabout requires vehicles to negotiate a sharper curve to enter resulting in slower speeds within the circle.

According to IIHS, research shows that traffic flow improves after intersections are converted to roundabouts. Additionally, there is less vehicle idling, which results in fewer vehicle emissions at the location.

Older traffic circles sometimes have traffic signals dictating the right of way but most modern ones only have yield signs. Some modern roundabouts feature flow-through lanes which allow shortcutting for partings simply going a quarter of the way around.

Roundabouts aren't just safer for vehicles. They have distinct advantages for pedestrians as well as they are able to walk on sidewalks around the perimeter rather than crossing only one direction at a time. Crossing distances are usually shorter than they would be during a traditional frolic through the roadway and vehicles are frequently moving slower than they usually would.

What we now know as the roundabout gained popularity in the United Kingdom in the 1960s and is seeing expanded use throughout the U.S. and Europe in modern times. The first modern roundabouts were popularized in Nevada in the 1990s.

While there are benefits for motorists and pedestrians, it comes at the cost of cyclists who are often required to ride in the road and can find themselves caught up amongst vehicles in the rotary when speciality lanes are not present.

Cycling races often bemoan the uptick in rotaries, which cause hazards to racers at speed while crashes often happening as the peloton splits to traverse the obstacle and the surrounding lane dividers.

Some states, including New York and Virginia, have adopted "roundabout first" policies requiring that roundabouts be considered a preferred alternative when building new intersections or upgrading older ones.

Up-front construction costs of roundabouts can be pricey, but the overall cost of maintenance once built is generally cheaper, according to IIHS. There is also the benefit of a lessened cost of police and firefighter time spent dealing with accidents at high-risk intersections in addition to the human life toll.

The service life of a roundabout is significantly longer, approximately 25 years, compared with 10 years for a typical traffic signal.

Trending News