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New Jersey Contemplates First-Ever Pet Seatbelt Law

Dogs and cats are being thrust into the distracted-driving discussion; fines for unrestrained animals would be $250 to $1,000.

By Claire_Martin Sep 21, 2012 1:03PM
Dog in harness screenshot from Pet Travel Safety Youtube videoIf you'd been hit by a car in which the driver's dog was sitting on his lap or barking in the back seat, chances are you'd get behind a proposed New Jersey law that would require motorists to strap their cats and dogs into a harnesslike system or face fines of between $250 and $1,000. The law considers free-floating pets to be an act of animal cruelty.

If the law is passed, New Jersey would become the first state to require pet harnesses. Hawaii bans Fido from riding in drivers' laps, and Arizona and Connecticut issue tickets if a pet is involved in a distracted-driving incident. 

A New Jersey firefighter named Scott Law was the unfortunate victim of a dog-related distracted-driving incident as a child, when he was struck by a driver whose car was transporting Chinese takeout and a dog.
The car jumped the curb and sent Law 50 feet into the air, putting him in a coma and saddling him with a lifelong stutter. “They think it’s cute when they’re driving with the dog on their lap," Law, who supports the legislation, told Bloomberg. "But it’s not cute and it’s not safe." 

Opponents of the bill say New Jersey has bigger problems on its plate, including the highest unemployment rate in 30 years.
Nearly one-fifth of dog-toting drivers in a survey admitted to taking their hands from the wheel to keep the pet out of the front seat; almost one-quarter said they had restrained their dog with their hand while braking, according to reporting by Bloomberg.
Those are familiar scenarios for many people, no doubt, but is it enough of a problem to warrant dispatching police officers to issue traffic tickets? What are your thoughts? Add a comment below.

Sep 22, 2012 1:04PM

doesn't anyone use or even know what COMMON SENSE is anymore?
Sep 22, 2012 12:53PM

Oh NO! There is a cop behind me, an attractive person on the sidewalk, a great old car, flashing billboards and the list goes on for things that distract us. How much government control is truly needed? Every time we turn around we are allowing government to increase their revenues by punishing ourselves, we can not address every persons desires, because no one can agree on where to draw the line! Government keeps growing by enacting these laws.

Sep 22, 2012 7:45AM
And to think I grew up in a time when there were no seat belts, no child safety seats.  You piled into the car and you got as many into the station wagon as you could.  So every decade it seems there are new laws, more expensive restraints, and more fines and penalties.  Did we used to believe America was a land of freedom and liberty?  Well, those days are long gone.
Sep 23, 2012 5:19AM
If you have a pet that jumps all over or would like to jump out the window for another animal,then maybe you should be smart enough to restrain it. But do we really need our government to tell us what to do? If so if it makes it more safe then maybe we should not be a free country because we must not be smart enough to live without control. Ohhhh wait!!!! That is how it is already. OOOOPS I let the ct out the bag.
Sep 22, 2012 8:44AM
Sounds to me like someone in the government has a brother-in-law in the dog harness manufacturing business.
Sep 22, 2012 6:54AM
I think we need laws against turning our heads while driving. Billboards should be banned as well as store-front signs. All knobs on dashboards need to be banned as well. Radios can be distracting too. Music and talk programs draw a driver's attention to the program. Passengers should NEVER be allowed to talk to a driver for fear of distracting them. We need cameras in cars so big brother can monitor drivers properly.
Sep 22, 2012 6:24AM
Driver's should teach their pets to text for the driver while in the car so the pet is kept busy and the driver is not distracted.

Typical government bs - waste time on crap instead of dealing with the important issues.

Sep 29, 2012 6:33AM
What about the, School bus  No seatbelt there ????  
Sep 22, 2012 7:55AM

Is this really about people and pet safety or are they simply trying to find a slick way increase state revenue my guess is revenue.  

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