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 Middletown Patch Facebook page, most readers agreed that the legislation should move forward.
"It is a great distraction to have a dog," said Niko Merritt on Facebook. "In the lap or running free all over the car while a person is driving. It worries me when I see that."
Joann Koehler agreed. "Poor dog doesn't stand a chance," she wrote. "Keep them safe. Their like our children."
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
What do you think? Do you think it should be illegal for a dog to be on a driver's lap?