Calgary is of the pet-friendliest cities in North America, and estimates suggest that the number of households with pets exceeds the national average of about 56 percent. That also means that there are many pets who accompany their owners on car trips, which can increase risks if you’re not careful. An unrestrained pet can be a major distraction when you’re behind the wheel, and a recent study performed at the University of Alabama-Birmingham found that people who drive with pets can be up to twice as likely to be involved in an accident, an event which could have a detrimental impact on your car insurance in Calgary.
Car Insurance Calgary: The Potential Dangers of Driving with Pets
There’s a right way and a wrong way to travel with pets in the car. While it’s fairly common to see drivers with dogs (or cats) in their laps, this is one of the worst practices you can engage in. If the animal makes a sudden or unexpected move, your attention could easily be divided. You are dramatically increasing your likelihood of causing an accident if you take your eyes off the road for more than two seconds.
It can be extremely dangerous to be involved in an accident with an unrestrained pet in the vehicle. Even at a low speed like 30 km/h, a 60-pound dog can potentially create an impact of up to 2,700 pounds. That is enough to seriously injure or even kill someone, to say nothing of the risks to the animal’s life and safety.
Under Alberta law, drivers can be fined under the province’s distracted driving legislation if they are travelling with an unrestrained pet in the vehicle. While these fines are levied at the discretion of the police officer engaged with the traffic stop, they will generally be given if an unrestrained pet is occupying the driver’s seat or the front passenger seat. There is some grey area, though, as the province does not have specific laws requiring pet owners to restrain animals while driving. However, there are a few safety guidelines you should always follow when travelling by car with your pets.
Car Insurance Calgary: Drive Safely with Pets in Your Car
Here are three important tips you should always follow in regards to pets and car trips:
- Purchase a specially designed car seat for your pet. While a crate is the safest place to put your dog or cat, you have other options if you don’t want to go to that extreme. Pet harnesses, pet car seats, and pet hammocks are all much better than leaving your dog or cat unrestrained.
- Never leave your dog or cat unattended in a vehicle, especially during hot weather. The temperature in a car parked in the sun on a hot day can easily exceed 40 degrees Celsius, and your pet could easily develop a life-threatening case of heatstroke if it is left in those conditions for any length of time. However, even during cooler weather, pets could still be targeted by thieves or the victims of injury as the result of being left alone in a parked vehicle.
- Do not drive with your dog in your lap, or in the front passenger seat. The impact of an airbag can kill a dog, much the same as it can kill a small child. Also, unrestrained animals are far more likely to create a driving distraction when they’re in the front seat.
Car Insurance Calgary: The Impact of Pets on Insurance Rates
If you’re involved in an at-fault accident as the result of distracted driving, you can expect your insurance rates to rise. Also, your insurance may not cover your vet bills if your pet is injured as the result of a car crash.
If you have questions about the coverage specifics of your car insurance in Calgary, contact your insurance provider or seek the advice of an insurance broker. Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta-based insurance brokerage, offering excellent rates on car insurance in Calgary in addition to providing for all your other insurance needs. Lane’s offers value-added service, money-saving insurance bundles, free quotes and much more. To learn more, please contact a Lane’s Insurance customer service representative.