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Elderly drivers and canine passengers are at high risk for accidents

Dogs are indeed often man's best friend. And woman's best friend and child's best friend as well. However, new research suggests that elderly drivers may be placing themselves in danger when driving with their best canine buddies. According to experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, elderly drivers face higher rates of car accidents when traveling with canine passengers.

The reasons supporting this conclusion are numerous. But in the end, dogs are simply distracting creatures. Even though they are truly loveable company, they serve as visual, auditory and tactile distractions, regardless of whether or not they are crated during a given car ride.

Distracted driving is now the number one cause of motor vehicle accidents in America. Though an increasing amount of attention is being paid to the role that portable electronic devices are playing in this trend, cell phones and GPS units are not the only things that can cause drivers dangerous levels of distraction. Pets in general and dogs in particular serve as distraction hazards to drivers of all ages and to elderly drivers especially.

Elderly drivers can help to lower their risk of being involved in accidents by traveling with their dogs only when necessary. When Fido does hop along for the ride, it is best to crate him and give him something to play with so that he doesn't bark and fuss during travel. In addition, simply being aware of the fact that dogs are distracting can help to enable drivers to keep their focus on the road when their pets are in the car with them.

Source: Carrier Management, "Seniors Driving With Their Dogs Get In More Auto Accidents: University Study," May 7, 2013

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