Should Dogs Be Allowed On A Driver's Lap?
Representative Palumbo has again introduced legislation that will prohibit dogs from sitting on the lap of a motor vehicle operator.
Should dogs be allowed on a drivers lap?
One Rhode Island Legislator says the answer is a resounding no.
“I know some people think this is frivolous, but I still believe it is a matter of public safety, for humans and animals alike,” said Representative Peter G. Palumbo (D-Dist. 16, Cranston).
He introduced legislation that would subject violators to an $85 fine for a first offense, $100 for a second and $125 for a third or subsequent offense.
Almost a quarter of drivers that transport dogs allow them to ride on their lap, according to a 2010 survey from AAA.
In addition to the risks it causes other motorists, it could be considered dangerous for the pet.
The auto club claims an unrestrained 10-pound dog traveling at 50 miles per hour flies forward with 500 pounds of pressure in a crash and an 80-pound dog at only 30 mph packs a 2,400-pound punch.
If enacted into law, Rhode Island would be one of the few states to enforce limitations on pets in the car.
In New Jersey, under state law, NJSPCA officers can stop a driver they believe is improperly transporting an animal. Tickets range from $250 to $1,000 per offense, and a driver can face a disorderly person's offense under animal-cruelty laws. Hawaii explicitly forbids drivers from holding a pet on their lap. In Arizona, Connecticut and Maine, distracted-driving laws can be used to charge drivers with pets on their laps.
On the East Greenwich Facebook page, people agreed that the legislation should move forward.
"If you were ever in an accident and the air bag deployed they would be seriously injured or worse," Stephanie Caldwell commented.
"Not to mention that the dog is in the way of your steering wheel and your ability to act in an emergency situation. Your focus is on the dog not driving. Dogs shouldn't be in the front seat if possible ... no diferent than small children," Paula Marcoux commented.
"A 60 lb Airedale in my lap? How would I ever text my friends, apply makeup, and read a book while driving?" joked Dean Benjamin.
The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
What do you think? Do you think it should be illegal for a dog to be on a driver's lap?