Doggy Death Traps: New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys Urge Drivers to Restrain Their Pets, Save Lives

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New Jersey is the only state in the nation to fine drivers for animal cruelty for not buckling up their cats and dogs. Many balked at the law’s range of punishments, championed by the SPCA and state Motor Vehicle Commission, which levies citations from $250 to $1,000 plus up to six months in jail per violation. New Brunswick car accident attorney Richard P. Console Jr. sees this latest accident as an opportunity to push dialogue about safe driving practices forward.

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Having an unrestrained pet in the car with you is just as dangerous as a cell phone, and probably more so.

New Jersey is the only state in the nation to fine drivers for animal cruelty for not buckling up their cats and dogs. Many balked at the law’s range of punishments, championed by the SPCA and state Motor Vehicle Commission, which levies citations from $250 to $1,000 plus up to six months in jail per violation. However, a violent collision in East Brunswick recently illustrates the importance of this little-thought-of precaution that could ultimately save lives. Sari and Ari Horowitz died on September 15 when 49-year-old Naglaa H. Armanious allegedly lost control of her vehicle and struck the couple along with three others, according to the Asbury Park Press*. The crash is still under investigation, but reports indicate that police believe a dog, traveling in the car with Armanious at the time of the crash, may have directly contributed to the catastrophic event. New Brunswick car accident attorney Richard P. Console Jr. sees this latest accident as an opportunity to push dialogue about safe driving practices forward.

“This pedestrian crash is an awful tragedy. My heart goes out to the friends and family of the victims,” said Console. “A dog allowed to roam free around the inside of a car is a distraction no matter its size. If you’re trying to keep a dog off your dashboard, everyone around you is in serious danger.”

According to a 2010 report issued by AAA**, 65 percent of those drivers surveyed admitted to performing at least one distracting activity while their dog was in the car. The most common activity, petting, occurred 52 percent of the time. The least common distracting activity, taking a picture of a pet while driving, happened 3 percent of the time. More than 83 percent of respondents agreed that having an unrestrained pet in the car can be dangerous.

Only 29 percent of those surveyed by AAA admitted to being distracted by their pet when behind the wheel. Console and his team of personal injury attorneys in North Bergen claimed the commentary doesn’t match the deadly results.

“Distracted driving leads to higher fatality rates and more serious accidents,” Console said. “Every report we’ve seen confirms that assessment as do the accident reports issued by state police departments. Having an unrestrained pet in the car with you is just as dangerous as a cell phone, and probably more so. A cell phone can’t jump in your lap or accidentally push your gear shift.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration*** estimates that 3,000 people across the country die in traffic-related accidents caused by distracted drivers every year.

Since 1994, Console & Hollawell P.C. has obtained more than $30 million in compensation for accident victims across New Jersey. The firm’s relentless pursuit of client rights has earned them recognition from national legal organizations, including The Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

** http://petspot.aaa.com/pet-passengers/doggie-distractions
*** http://www.distraction.gov/

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