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The lengths we go to keep ourselves safe while driving often don’t apply to Fido in the back. Too often dogs are left unrestrained on a rear seat or simply separated by flimsy netting. If an accident occurs, modern safety features such as seat belts, airbags, crumple zones and ABS mean occupants stand a good chance of surviving or escaping with minor injuries. But an unrestrained pet in the car can suddenly become a dangerous projectile – with tragic consequences for the animal and other occupants.

If a car crashes at a speed of 40km/h (25mp/h), an airborne dog can develop projection forces equaling 40 times its weight. For example, a German Shepherd weighing 35 kilos (77 pounds) can impact with a force of 1,400 kilos (3087 pounds). The damage this can wreak as it progresses through the cabin and, sometimes, out the front windscreen can be imagined.

To highlight the dangers, the Allianz Centre for Technology (AZT) recently staged a crash test using dogs. Lifelike replicas of Bobby and Max were installed in a car at the test facilities near Munich, Germany, and the car then driven against a wall.

Max, the unsecured dog dummy, shot through the interior smashing violently into the dashboard. Bobby, the smaller harnessed dog, remained in place on the backseat.

The AZT says that properly securing your dog improves the chances that all your loved ones will survive a collision. If the animal is restrained, it will also ensure that the your terrified pet won’t flee from the accident scene or obstruct any rescue services working to reach you. And with Fido safely strapped away, you can confidently keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel

Wim Van Aken

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