Q: I just love my dog. She goes everywhere with me.
So when I drive, she's up front, on my lap or in my wife's arms. Is that OK?
A: If you really love your pet, restrain it.
An unrestrained pet can cause a crash, be injured or killed in a crash or injure you and your passengers in a crash.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, experts estimate that tens of thousands of crashes each year are caused by unrestrained pets.
An unrestrained pet can be a distraction and, especially in the case of a dog riding on the driver's lap, can interfere with both the driving and the driver's vision.
Those who choose to drive distracted, you jeopardize not only their own safety and the safety of their passengers and pet, but the safety of every other driver sharing the road.
In a crash, that unrestrained pet can become the driver's or passenger's airbag, being crushed with a force of thousands of pounds.
For example, in a 30 mile per hour crash, a 100 pound person would hit a dog with a force of 3,000 pounds.
Allowing a pet to ride unrestrained up front also places it in front of an airbag, which can deploy with a force powerful enough to kill any size dog.
Or consider the pet that becomes airborne and can injure the driver and passengers.
Even a very small pet in a low speed crash can hit with an impact of more than 100 pounds.
An unrestrained pet also could be ejected from the vehicle, going through glass, onto the road and into traffic.
What pet could survive that?
Additionally, an unrestrained pet - if it makes it through the crash - may run off after the crash, or can interfere with emergency personnel attempting to assist the driver and other occupants.
So, if you really love your pet, restrain it.
You wouldn't let a child ride that way would you?
Many products are available for restraining pets.
As you research these products, which are available through pet stores, veterinarians and online, look for a restraint that keeps the pet in a part of the vehicle away from the driver and will also protect the pet and others in a crash.
Look for pet restraints that have been crash tested.
For more information on transporting pets safely and links to products for pet restraint in vehicles, visit www.barkbuckleup.com.
"Sadie Says ..." is brought to you by the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition's Safe Communities Task Force, whose members include AAA North Penn, AARP, Area Agency on Aging and regional transportation and highway safety advocates.