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Seniors who always drive with pets may crash more often: study

May 8, 2013

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Birmingham, AL – Seniors who always drive with pets in their motor vehicles may have a higher rate of crashing than seniors who do not drive with pets, according to a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Researchers surveyed about 2,000 drivers 70 or older who drive with or without pets, according to the study abstract. Seniors who reported always driving with a pet had twice the rate of crashing compared to seniors who never drove with pets. However, the crash rates of seniors who "sometimes" or "rarely drove" with pets were not significantly different than that of seniors who did not drive with pets, researchers found.

Researchers suggested that the physical and cognitive distraction caused by pets has a greater effect on an older person’s ability to drive safely. They suggested further research on pet-related distractions among all age groups to help determine the need for regulations. Currently, Hawaii is the only state that bans driving with pets in the lap, although several other states have laws restricting distracting behaviors that could include pets, according to a UAB press release.

The study was published online April 30 in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

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