Mandating pet restraints in vehicles is idea that goes too far

Driving with a dog in your lap isn't wise, but regulations and restrictions aren't needed

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When state lawmakers banned drivers from using hand-held cell phones some were concerned this was the first of many bans drivers would experience.

What's next? A ban on eating, a ban on drinking coffee, a ban on singing along with the radio and ban on letting a dog or cat roam the car?

Ah, that's silly, right?

Yes, it is silly, but it is nevertheless being talked about when it comes to restraining pets. A movement is brewing to force drivers to buckle up their dogs and other pets.

Jon Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune reported recently on a study by the AAA organization on dogs in cars.

"Safety experts have a new pet peeve related to distracted driving," Hilkevitch wrote.

"In addition to texting or talking on a cell phone while driving, lap dogs and other pets left unrestrained inside moving vehicles pose a major distraction that could be deadly, a new study released Wednesday warns motorists.

"About two-thirds of dog owners surveyed by the AAA organization said they routinely drive while petting or playing with their dogs, sometimes even giving them food or water while maneuvering through traffic."

The experts interviewed go on to note that is risky behavior for the driver and dangerous for the pets too

"As about 40 percent of Americans own dogs, we see this as an increasingly big problem,'' said Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Since 100 percent of drivers eat this is an even a bigger problem. Should we ban eating in cars?

We think not.

It's unnecessary to try to regulate everything that goes on in cars. We should expect drivers to use common sense.

If they don't -- and many do not -- these drivers can be sued or even cited for reckless behavior.

The line on bans has to be clear. It must be limited to behavior that has become so problematic and pervasive that society has an obligation to take action.

Sadly, the number of injuries and deaths attributed to cell-phone misuse has been growing at an alarming rate. That is why restrictions on cell phones and texing are appropriate.

That's simply not the case with people having pets in their cars.

We agree that drivering with a pet on your lap might not be the smartest thing to do, but it doesn't need to be banned.

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