While cars and car seats are tested to meet safety requirements during a car crash, harnesses and other devices that restrain pets have no such standardized testing, rendering claims made by the makers of these devices completely unsubstantiated.

In an effort to substantiate restraint-manufacturer claims, The Center for Pet Safety, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, recently conducted a pilot study that concluded the majority of pet restraints currently available don’t provide acceptable protection in a crash. In the pilot study, the group used a 55-pound crash-test-dummy dog equipped with various pet restraints attached to the car seat belt to test performance in a 30 mph collision, using the same standards used to test child car seats. All of the restraints tested showed that they could lead to serious or fatal injuries for the pet, as well as the driver. Restraining pets safely in the car is important for the safety of the animal and human occupants during a crash, but also because an unrestrained pet could cause distraction resulting in a crash that is the driver’s fault, which could raise auto insurance rates.

As a result of the study, The Center for Pet Safety, in conjunction with Subaru of America, is creating a set of standards for testing pet restraints in cars, testing pet restraints in the future and announcing the results. In its study, and moving forward, the organization will use scientific testing and reference the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to establish the criteria for the standards and test protocols.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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