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Rep. Palumbo wants No More Cruising with Pooches on Laps

The bill would make driving with a dog on your lap illegal.

From the Rhode Island General Assembly Press Bureau:

No matter how much people love and pamper their pets, Rep. Peter G. Palumbo still thinks it’s dangerous to drive a car with a dog on your lap.

“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 Palumbo (D-Dist. 16, Cranston).

Representative Palumbo has again introduced legislation, 2013-H 5101, that will prohibit dogs from sitting on the lap of a motor vehicle operator. Violators would be subject to an $85 fine for a first offense, $100 for a second and $125 for a third or subsequent offense.

“It doesn’t take a lot for a driver to be distracted, and even minor distractions can lead to accidents and injuries,” said Representative Palumbo. “If you are driving and texting, you are not watching the road. If you are driving and petting your dog, you are not watching the road. Safety on our roads must come first, for everyone’s sake, and a driver pre-occupied by a pet on his lap is not a safe driver, in my opinion.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the results of a study that indicated nearly 80 percent of crashes are caused by driver inattention or distraction within three seconds of a crash. An article on the Animal Planet website said that “A loose pet in a car may as well be a neon sign warning ‘accident ahead.’ Free roaming pets may distract the driver, whose main attention should be on the road. Pets might jump into a driver’s lap (and) obstruct the driver’s view.”

A 2010 survey from AAA found that 21 percent of drivers who transported their dogs in the previous year let the pooch ride on their lap. The auto club called it dangerous because 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. Said a AAA spokesperson, “Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path.”

So far, not many states have enacted laws dealing with this issue. 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.

“I love dogs just as much as anyone, but we need to use some common sense when it comes to driving with them,” said Representative Palumbo. “If we have to educate people through the possibility of a fine, so be it. My interest is in keeping drivers, other people on the road, and pets safe.”

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

Suzanne Arena January 25, 2013 at 05:59 PM
RIRebel. Studies are performed because there is a cause and effect that warrant further exploration. Obviously If you don't have enough self-control, anything will distract you from your focus and over the last several years this has been an issue. Many States started with a ban on Cell Phones in cars/texting and we followed suit. Yes, it would have been a grand idea to capture the obvious potential distractions and list it there...but they didn't. If you read the Study, then you read the high percentage of people that drive with their pooch and those that admit to distraction and playing with it. Like other States, we are following suit for something that is being put in for "Public Safety". For your argument "how did we manage to coexist", hmnn lets see...there is a society today that has no respect woven into our daily existence. This argument could be used for Sex Offender, Homelessness etc. It's ridiculous to try and present facts to someone who doesn't see the society breakdown and flagrant disregard for laws and ethics. As far as Rep. Palumbo, please share your Bill's that you have submitted and would like to see. I have several and relate from Sex Offender Loopholes (which I will make the time to speak at a Hearing about...I don't just talk the talk), Children's issues. Please look up his current bills at: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Pages/Default.aspx then share what you feel he hasn't submitted on behalf of District 16.
RIRebel January 26, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Suzie, first the AAA article was based on a survey not a study, big difference. Secondly, it was sponsored by Kurgo® which produces innovative, stylish and high-quality pet travel products so of course there was no bias with publishing the article or with any type of evaluation of all the results. It seems that you are exactly one of the people I’m taking about. You think you can legislate everything in life you don’t like for what ever reason you want and that is generally under the pretense of “public safety” or “for the children” and then are surprise when individual flagrantly disregard them. Enough is enough! How about spending ones time on really meaningful issues that reasonable people could agree on instead of lame, stupid, trivial, non-effective, invented problems. News flash, life is an inherently a dangerous activity and if you think that by writing a few words on a piece of paper is going to protect you or make you feel safer is sound policy you better start rethinking. We are all individuals with free will and the more constraints levied upon will simple result more violators. Just the facts jack Why is it that I think that no matter how many laws or regulations that are put on the books, you would never be happy and think there should always be more? At some point in ones life everyone needs to ask themselves; what is the value of life when have we lost all our freedoms and liberties. .
Suzanne Arena January 26, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Thank you RIRebel, I hadn't noted the conflict of interest of the survey/study. I will tell you, I spend a lot more time over the years on other issues that it really BLEW my mind that this ridiculous thing was picked up...but that's the media sensalization for you. Obviously this is already on the books for distracted drivers (emcompassing everything from Cellphones to putting mascara on), but the fact of the matter is the police do not enforce it. Perhaps knowing there is a heafty fine bringing in some revenue, now they will think to do it. For some reason having a homeless shelter with violent felons and Sex Offenders is A-ok! Also, Sen. Doyle has been putting in a bill that I have complained about for years concerning S.O. that appeal their Registry and until their trial...go completely off the registry. Then the biggest shocker is the diagnosed 20,000+ Dyslexic children that we don't test on or acknowledge....Why the Sam Hill doesn't the media or anyone Legislator (Rep. Naughton put in last year on this issue) get the attention this needs. It's a Saturday Night Live night in this State every year.
Suzanne Arena January 29, 2013 at 02:58 AM
I found today's Newmax "Critics: Amnesty Plan Equals 'Unlimited Future Illegal Immigration" ( http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/critics-amnesty-illegal-immigration/2013/01/28/id/487725?s=al ) very interesting and relevant here because to point out answers to some of your pushback re: the No Dogs in the Lap of Drivers as they say its already on the books for Driver Distraction ("DD"). However, we all know they had to come up with the texting bill after DD was already on the books but clearly not enforced by the police. This is a prime example of our Federal law, whereas this agreement is no different than existing law that the federal government repeatedly fails to implement. In fact, Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (1/28/2013) says.....“How many times can you promise the same thing to people and not carry through before they stop believing you?” He further argues of properly enforcing laws already on the books. I agree, but they don't so you do have to reinvent the wheel to improve and raise awareness and hopefully it will be a catalyst for change. Don't you agree??
Joe Richer January 29, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Respectfully Suzanne, I don't agree AT ALL. What you suggest is the equivalent of the people saying "we really mean it this time". We've forgotten that not just the legislative but the executive branch is accountable to "we the people" as well. Our mayor is the commander and chief of our police department. If we feel DD laws are not being properly enforced we have recourse to appeal to the mayor to issue orders to his police department to enforce the laws as written. If we pile up dozens of individual DD laws, what will a police officer be able to do when he sees someone reading the newspaper while driving (I've seen it), the driver will claim it;s not DD since it's not covered by any of the other laws out there. Can we really think of every instance of an act that is DD and pass a law to cover it. Sorry, the law needs leeway in cases like this. Example, if your dog stays put in the back seat without restraints, I've no problem (Beyond the fact that it may not be appropriate care for your dog - but how you care for your dog is not my business). I just don't want to live in a society that is composed of thousands of discreet laws that control my behavior. I'd prefer to live in a country where government spends more time protecting and expanding my freedom! For only with freedom comes opportunity.

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