Don’t take selfies with your pet while driving, AAA warns

Going on a road trip for the long 4th of July weekend?

If you take your dog with you, make sure you don’t try to snap a selfie of you with your four-legged friend, AAA says.

A recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey found 12 percent of motorists have taken a photo of their pet while driving.

Among the survey’s other findings: 37 percent of drivers don’t restrain their pets while riding the car., and 13 percent of pet owners admit to becoming distracted by their pets while they are behind the wheel.

AAA’s survey found that 42 percent of drivers pet their dog while behind the wheel, and 26 percent of motorists allow their pet to freely move from seat to seat.

Twenty-two percent of drivers allow their dogs to sit in their lap while they are behind the wheel, the study found.

AAA recommends the following safety tips for drivers who bring their pets along for the ride:

  • For safety reasons, pets should be confined to the back seat, either in a carrier or a harness attached to the car's seat belt. This will prevent distractions as well as protect the animal and other passengers in the event of a collision.
  • To help prevent carsickness, feed your pet a light meal 4 to 6 hours before departing.
  • Do not give an animal food or water in a moving vehicle.
  • Never allow your pet to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. It's illegal in some states; he also can jump out or be thrown. Harnessing or leashing him to the truck bed is not advisable either: if he tries to jump out, he could be dragged along the road or the restraint could become a noose.
  • Avoid placing animals in campers or trailers.
  • Don't let your dog stick her head out the window, no matter how enjoyable it seems. Road debris and other flying objects can injure delicate eyes and ears, and the animal is at greater risk for severe injury if the vehicle should stop suddenly or be struck.
  • AAA recommends that drivers stop every 2 hours to stretch their legs and take a quick break from driving. Your pet will appreciate the same break. Plan to visit a rest stop every 4 hours or so to let him have a drink and a chance to answer the call of nature.
  • Be sure your pet is leashed before opening the car door. This will prevent her from unexpectedly breaking free and running away. Keep in mind that even the most obedient pet may become disoriented during travel or in strange places and set off for home.
  • NEVER leave an animal in a parked car, even if the windows are partially open. Even on pleasant days the temperature inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 10 minutes, placing your pet at risk for heatstroke and possibly death. On very cold days, hypothermia is a risk. Also, animals left unattended in parked cars can be stolen.