We have all been there, it's a sunny and warm summer day and we want to take our four-legged best friend out to the park, or maybe you're on a long-haul car trip with your canine companion. They of course are going to gravitate right to "their person" even if they're operating a motor vehicle. But what does Kentucky law have to say about driving with your furry friend in your lap?

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Doggone Good Time or Devastating Disaster?

The American Kennel Club's website states many guidelines to help safely transport man and man's best friend. One of the topics discussed includes thoughts on driving with your pup situated behind the wheel. It's a fact that this can be incredibly distracting, for both the driver with the dog and other commuters as well. Who hasn't spotted a cute mutt in traffic and said "Aww"?

The pup can become positioned in such a way that it blocks your view of the road and traffic flow, leading to visibility issues. As well as the dog potentially jumping into the way of gas and brake pedals. Many things could potentially go wrong, causing loss of vehicle control or even a car wreck. But what does the law have to say about pups being a "passenger princess"?

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Kentucky Distracted Driving Laws

While there may not be any technicalities stating that a dog in the lap while driving is against the law, it can fall under the category of distracted driving. What exactly is considered distracted driving in Kentucky anyway? Let's break down the types of distracted driving;

  • Manual: such as the use of a cell phone or digging through the glove box for that much-needed tissue. These actions take your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Visual: again this can include the use of devices or anything that takes your eyes off the road.
  • Mental: Brain fog happens to us all, however, it is important to maintain mental acuity while driving to help prevent any potential roadway disasters. 

A dog in the lap could be categorized as one or all of the above-listed varieties of distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes distracted driving as,

"any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving" 

According to AKC's website, in the state of Hawaii, there is a complete ban on driving with your dog in your lap, while most other states have this covered under the umbrella of distracted driving.


The Price of Distracted Driving

Now that we know that there might be com consequences and downfalls to inviting Fido on your jaunts out of the house, let's break down the potential fines associated with distracted driving in the Bluegrass state. For a first-time offense, it is a $25 fine and three points on your driving record. For a second offence and beyond it increases to $50 and an additional accumulation of 3 points on the record. 


What is the best way to travel with your dog in tow?

Referencing back to the American Kennel Club's website, it is suggested that dogs even riding shotgun are at risk, themselves and the driver. If an airbag deploys while they are situated in the front seat, they could sustain severe injuries or possible death. The safest way to travel is with them crated, some crates can even be padded for extra comfort and protection from being jarred about. It is important to choose a crate that is a suitable size for your doggo meaning they can turn around and lay down comfortably. Crates can also be strapped down for less overall movement about the vehicle. 

Sources of information:

** https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/kentucky/article284076533.html

** https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/travel/dog-seat-belts-what-you-need-to-know-to-keep-your-dog safe/#:~:text=If%20the%20car%20does%20not,to%20properly%20restrain%20your%20dog.

** https://www.trustedchoice.com/distracted-driving/kentucky-laws/

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