Alabama study: senior drivers are better off without pets in car

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, senior drivers who take their pets along for the ride have an increased risk of being involved in a collision. The study suggests that many elderly drivers are already at risk due to delayed reaction times and slower cognitive performance when they are driving, and pets can cause distractions that may further impair their ability to react to potentially dangerous situations.

Approximately 2,000 drivers who were 70 years old or older were included in the study. Subjects were surveyed to determine their driving habits; they also participated in higher-order visual processing and visual sensory testing. It was determined that more than half of those who owned pets occasionally took their animals with them when they were driving, and the risk for being in a car accident was doubled for those who had a pet in the car when compared to those who never drove with a pet.

The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration has made distracted driving a focal point, and while most of the focus for distracted driving is on cell phone use, pets are also an issue. Many states have laws that prohibit drivers from having a pet in their lap while they are operating their vehicle so that they can concentrate on the task of driving.

Accidents caused by distracted Alabama drivers often result in injuries and sometimes even result in death. In addition to costly medical expenses and lost wages, people injured in accidents may face extensive rehabilitation or permanent disability. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help those affected by a car collision to seek a fair settlement from responsible parties to help mitigate some of their pain and suffering.

Source: virtualmedicinecentre.com, "Driving with the dog not a good idea for seniors", May 22, 2013

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