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Calif. lawmaker: Pets on lap while driving is a distraction, needs to be banned

05-05-2008 11:25 PM

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Associated Press) -- Pull over and put down the dog.

 

A California lawmaker wants to ban motorists from holding pets on their laps while driving and getting caught can net a $35 fine. The bill passed the Assembly on a 44-11 vote on Monday, and heads to the Senate.

 

Assemblyman Bill Maze says his legislation has nothing to do with pet-loving celebrities who are photographed driving around Los Angeles with their small dogs.

 

Maze says he introduced the bill after seeing a woman driving with three dogs on her lap.

 

He says pets are a distraction that put motorists and their passengers at risk.

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I think it's a good idea, not only for the safety of the driver and other drivers, but also for the dog. Most dogs I see on peoples laps pretty much rule the house and are not under control. Dogs should be safe while driving too. Can you imagine what would happen if one of those tiny dogs were in an accident? They'd fly out the window!

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I think this is a good idea. Its not safe for the drive or the dog. If the driver needed to make a sudden correction with the car the dog would interfere with that and could cause more accidents than those prevent. Why can't the dog just sit in the shot gun seat with its own window? seems reasonable to me.

 

ETA: haha Bo Peep. Good minds think alike :rolleyes:

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I think that's good too. I have seen to many dogs hanging out the drivers window while they are driving down the interstate. It's scary. I would hate to see them go flying out.

 

When Black Jack gets to come with me he stands between the seats on the arm rest so he can see out the window but is safe. He has learned which blinker means which way we are turning. So when I turn he leans on either seat to stay up. I don't drive THAT crazy though :rolleyes:

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While I agree with the idea in theory, I don't want a law for it. If they get in a wreck, or cause one, they should be penalized for not having control of their vehicle. Yeah, I know, but I just hate MORE freaking laws telling me what the hell to do all the time! Punish the ones that actually screw up, not the mights.

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Dixie Girl, I don't agree with you, it's needs to be a law. After the accident and God forbid, someone is hurt or killed, that's just too late to penalize someone for not having their car under control. If it's not a law, there is no bite. (pun)

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I think it needs to be a law how many lap dogs have you seen with their heads between the drivers hands on the wheel, or standing on thier laps with their heads out the window? Just recently I was behind someone driving a small jeep with a chi mix of some kind hanging out the drivers window, a sudden stop or turn and that dog was out the window, plus the driver had one hand on the dogs back and one hand on the wheel. What wouuld happen if he needed to make a sudden correction? His other hand would never get to the wheel on time and the chi would fly out the window.

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It should be understood that having an animal on your lap while driving is dangerous, and we should not need a law, but I guess there are a lot of people without common sense ... Who would think of having a child on their lap going 70 down the highway nowadays???? A dog is even more unpredictable. While they are at it, they probably also need to pass laws about reading, eating and putting on make-up while driving etc. ... I stopped next to a car once at a light, and the driver was holding a big hamburger in one hand, a drink in the other, and had a newspaper spread across the stirring wheel. How that person was actually driving, too, I do not know .... I just made sure to put a lot of distance between us! :rolleyes:

 

And no, I don't like laws for everything either.

 

Andrea

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I'm with Linda and Maralynn. I prefer to keep the gummint's big nose out of my bidness whenever possible.

 

Anyway, this law doesn't appear to make the dogs any safer, because an unrestrained dog will become a projectile in a crash whether it's on its owner's lap or sitting sedately in the back seat.

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if the animal is going to be in the vehicle, dog or cat, it should at least be in its own seat. my mom used to have a special kennel to keep our dog in for car trips. that way she knew he was safe and also not running around in the car. while some dogs behave in a vehicle there are many that dont.

 

so, perhaps a better law would be to have a doggie belt strap/restraint (i have seen them i know they make them) or required to put the animal in a kennel/carrier of sorts. i agree with Krambambuli in that you wouldn't want your child on your lap going 70mph, and the law is that a child must be in a carseat til a certain age & weight. why not the same for your other family member?

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That would be a big "no" on the mandantory doggie restraint. As someone with two kids, I've seen how the laws become used by car seat manufacturers to become a money cow. I've been running just behind the ball on the age/weight with one of my kids - when he was born he could have been out of a restraint by the time he was five. Now he's seven and will be using a $$ booster (style and model mandated by law) for at least another year. And it would be not unthinkable to see yet another law change that would mandate another kind of restraint for use until, oh, the age of 14 and/or 100 pounds.

 

I'm really glad the technology was there to protect my infant children (and I had an accident with both kids in the car, so I'm well aware of the dangers that are out there). But, I see very clearly that if you give the law an inch, it will drain your bank account and make it impossible to move a step without their approval, if at all possible.

 

And on anything longer than a trip to the corner store, all my dogs ride in crates, by the way. But heaven help us if the government starts mandating the configuration and manufacture of those - the price will go up to $1000 per crate and we'll all have to drive Hummers to fit all the hardware needed to take Fido to the dog park.

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I have to agree that a law should not be needed.

 

And yes I have allowed my toy poodle to ride in my lap BUT only when I am going a couple blocks on the backroads. I do not allow it if we are hitting a major road or highway.

 

I mean think about it if people will actually pay attention to the law - look at all the folks who break the HOV Lane restriction which carries a heavy fine and points on the license but they still do it knowing a couple cops are stationed along the lanes every morning and evening... do you think people are going to stop letting pooches ride in their lap? I don't think so.

 

It is just another way for a state to bring in money. When the states stop spending so much money on stupid things maybe I will not be so against another attempt at bringing in more money by forcing pet owners to pay money for something that should be common sense.

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I have to admit that I'm a dog-on-my-lap offender, as long as it's a comfortable fit and said pup behaves. As soon as Lewie was too big to fit comfortably he graduated to the passenger's seat. He still has to have a foot touching my hip/thigh. :rolleyes:

 

I have a harness for him, which he doesn't like wearing, and I admit I don't always strap him in, especially on short jaunts to town.

 

So, what's my point? I don't want a law dictating how I transport my pet.

 

MY big gripe is loose dogs in the OPEN bed of a pick-up truck. :D

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While I agree that a law ought not be required, I observe all too many people doing things that are outragously dangerous. Eventually you reach a critical mass where enough people are doing dangerous things that a new law becomes less burdonsome than the cost of maintaining the status quo.

 

I'm not, however, at all certain we've reached that point yet, in regards to pets in owner's laps.

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Loose dogs are like flying cannon balls in an accident. They make seat belts that work great and are comfy for dogs.

Also for those that are caught, $35 as a fine seems way too low to me. And it's often not our own driving we need to worry about. It's the other motorists.

 

It's just not worth the risk. My dog's life aren't expendable so I like to use the seat belt.

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Looks like this opinion has already been put out there, but thought I would add my 2 cents. As an attorney (practicing criminal/traffic law) it really bothers me when people want to pass another law when we have laws out there already that could be used to address the problem. My state, and I assume all the other 49, have laws banning careless/inattentive driving. Having a dog on your lap is careless in most circumstances. And in my opinion, officers are well within their rights to pull over a person seen driving with a dog on their lap and give that person a citation. Now, of course, that person could bring it to court and fight it, but until judges are ruling that having a dog on your lap doesn't fit within the careless driving-type statutes, there is no need to pass a new law. Dealing with the problem in this way wouldn't interfere with people who had a small dog/puppy laying in their lap and not moving, but would take care of the person who has a big lab hanging out the driver's side window, blocking their view of the road.

 

The fact is, we just can't outlaw everything that is dangerous. (Furthermore, just having a law on the books doesn't mean it will be followed.) There is not nearly enough money or time to enforce all these laws. I mean, really, in some situations it may be careless to listen to the radio while driving (if a person can't pay attention to the road at the same time). Are we going to outlaw car radios? We pass specific laws for the few biggies, and otherwise trust people to use common sense and drive safely. If they don't we nail em for careless/reckless/inattentive driving.

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I am fine with a law. If it is a law than it will show up on driving tests and kids will learn from the beggining that it is not ok to ride with a dog in your lap. (LOL I still remember all of the darn car seat questions I had to memorize) I say nip it in the butt before it becomes a habit for new drivers.

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I think Ninso explained things perfectly.

 

 

Agreed/

 

But I would add the need for education - and particularly about the dangers (to the dog and other people) of the unrestrained dog in the car - and perhaps even more importantly, the danger to the dog from the air bag where the car has them. Here, children under a certain age are not allowed to ride in the front seat - part of that is to do with their risk from an air bag going off in a crash or panic stop situation. (I just talked with my puppy cass about that the other day.)

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I just passed a (small, compact) car coming the other direction this afternoon, where the driver had what looked to be a solid 50-60 lb. Lab mutt sitting in his lap, with its head hanging out the window. And this is on a road riddled with pot holes from the winter, where the speed limit is 40 mph (which means going 45), is narrow, and is frequently used by cyclists and pedestrians.

 

There are off-leash trails a little further up the road, and that's probably where he was coming from. Idjit. My dog rides in the hatch (I drive a Subaru Impreza hatchback), wearing a harness clipped to one of the cargo anchors. She ain't goin' nowhere.

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Looks like this opinion has already been put out there, but thought I would add my 2 cents. As an attorney (practicing criminal/traffic law) it really bothers me when people want to pass another law when we have laws out there already that could be used to address the problem. My state, and I assume all the other 49, have laws banning careless/inattentive driving. Having a dog on your lap is careless in most circumstances. And in my opinion, officers are well within their rights to pull over a person seen driving with a dog on their lap and give that person a citation. Now, of course, that person could bring it to court and fight it, but until judges are ruling that having a dog on your lap doesn't fit within the careless driving-type statutes, there is no need to pass a new law. Dealing with the problem in this way wouldn't interfere with people who had a small dog/puppy laying in their lap and not moving, but would take care of the person who has a big lab hanging out the driver's side window, blocking their view of the road.

 

The fact is, we just can't outlaw everything that is dangerous. (Furthermore, just having a law on the books doesn't mean it will be followed.) There is not nearly enough money or time to enforce all these laws. I mean, really, in some situations it may be careless to listen to the radio while driving (if a person can't pay attention to the road at the same time). Are we going to outlaw car radios? We pass specific laws for the few biggies, and otherwise trust people to use common sense and drive safely. If they don't we nail em for careless/reckless/inattentive driving.

 

That's true. I didn't think of it that way. I agree also. Very good point.

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