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Is it Legal to Have an Unharnessed Animal as a Passenger?

You have probably seen it many times - someone driving on the road with a dog sitting in the front passenger seat, in the back passenger seat, or even on the driver’s lap. While these animals seem to be having a great time with their head out of an open window, tongue and ears flapping in the wind, is it legal to have an unharmed animal as a passenger in your vehicle? Like many responses to legal questions, the answer is, “it depends.” The nation is split when it comes to states that require animals to be harnessed while riding in the passenger seat of a vehicle, states that do not have laws that require harnessing, and states with laws that are ambiguous on the subject.

State Requirements on Animal Passengers

Orvis News reports that states that either require animals to wear a seatbelt by law or those that do not expressly mandate restraints but do fine drivers for having pets on their laps while operating vehicles include Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island. In other words, these states prohibit driving with an unrestrained animal in the vehicle. On the other hand, Orvis News reports the states that do not have any law prohibiting drivers to have an unrestrained animal in the vehicle include Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, D.C., Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Presently, Nevada does not have a law that requires a dog to wear a harness or seat belt or be contained in a crate during transportation. That being said, Nevada statute NRS 574.190 prohibits cruel and inhumane methods of transporting animals.

Pet Carrier Safety Tips

While there are no firm numbers on pets as passengers in car accidents based on the amount of vehicles on the road, the number of accidents annually, and the common scene of pets riding in cars, it can be implied that car crashes rank high on the list of pet injury and/or death in the U.S. Accordingly, there are several strategies that can be used to ensure pet safety during your commute, including using pet seat belts, backseat barriers, booster pet car seat, carrier restraints, back seat riding, vehicle temperature alarms, and microchips.

Nevada Car Accident Statistics

According to a report issued by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, traffic deaths across the state have dropped for the first time in seven years. That being said, more pedestrians have died in Nevada in traffic accidents than at any point in the history of the state. Statistics issued by the Nevada Department of Public Safety show that 24 fewer people died in Nevada car accidents in 2017 when compared to 2016. There are several factors that authorities believe contributed to the decrease in Nevada car accident deaths, including increased ambulance presence, enforcement of traffic rules, and education of the public. Notably, traffic deaths in Nevada decreased at the same time as the population of the state increased.

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a Nevada car accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Parry & Pfau can help. These skilled lawyers have fought for the rights of the injured across the state of Nevada for years, and they can help you obtain the monetary compensation to which you are entitled.

(image courtesy of Tim Mossholder)