Next Target of Distracted Driving: Lapdogs

Rhode Island legislator cracks down on distracted driving

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 6, 2012 6:09 AM CDT

(Newser) – There's a new target in the war on distracted driving: lapdogs. A Rhode Island legislator is sponsoring a bill that would ban drivers from letting their canine companions perch on their laps, reports the Wall Street Journal. The bill, which could saddle violators with a $125 fine, would make the state the first to enact such a law. But the idea has some pet owners fuming. "We should be responsible enough as adults to make our own decisions," says one. "If you're a responsible pet owner, you know your own pet."

"You can't legislate common sense," agrees Rhode Island's SPCA head. But lawmaker Peter Palumbo is concerned about safety—for both drivers and dogs. "If you really love your dog, try not to kill them," he says. In a 2010 survey, more than 20% of dog owners said they let their furry friends sit in their laps while driving; 31% of those said the dog had distracted them. A state police commander backs the law, and some animal advocates are behind it, too. "We'd like to see dogs secured the same way a human would be—in seat belts," says the head of the Providence Animal Rescue League.

A Rhode Island lawmaker has had it with lapdogs in cars.
A Rhode Island lawmaker has had it with lapdogs in cars.   (Shutterstock)
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