Some have argued that driving with a dog on your lap (is it even possible to drive with a cat in your lap?) is no less dangerous than driving with a cell phone to your ear, or texting and driving. They consider driving with a ‘lapdog’ to be just another form of distracted driving. Their arguments failed to sway Illinois law makers however, who have themselves failed to fully endorse the measure.
Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he was himself a dog lover, but also said that driving with a dog in your lap was dangerous no matter how small or well behaved the dog was.
The final vote was 21-27 with two abstentions, showing that the issue is certainly important enough to garner almost enough votes, but not quite enough to pass. The dispute seemed to fall along party lines with Democrats more or less in favor and Republicans opposed. Opponents of the new law said the state had better things to worry about than ‘lap dogs’, citing current economic struggles and their supporters agreed.
It seems unlikely that the issue will go away, however, as some driving safety experts have been putting the spotlight on all forms of distracted driving. And yes, there have been numerous accidents attributed to drivers who had dogs or other pets loose in the car with them.
Given the abundance of evidence that distracted driving of any kind is leading to more traffic fatalities than even driving under the influence of alcohol, it seems like a good idea that drivers avoid any and all distractions when they get behind the wheel.