Bill Would Ban Dogs On Drivers’ Laps

A bill making its way through the Rhode Island state legislature would make it illegal to drive with a dog in your lap.

Introduced by Cranston state Rep. Peter Palumbo, the proposed legislation would call for fines of $85 for a first offense, $100 for the second, and $125 for subsequent offenses. Palumbo said he was moved to act after hearing from a constituent who witnessed a driver veering in traffic while trying to see around a dog seated in their lap.

Considering recent surveys from AAA in which 39 % of dog owners admitted to being distracted by their dogs while driving, proponents of the bill say it will encourage safer driving practices and reduce annual traffic fatalities.


  1. Tracey says on  04/10/2012 at 9:12 am

    It is so unsafe to drive with a dog in a lap. I don’t know if the drivers think about what could happen to the dog if they were in an accident. I like the little seats for smaller dogs and the harnesses for bigger dogs. I think that it is sad that common sense is missing and that a law has to be passed. Well I hope that law makes its way to being passed in all states.

  2. JamaicaRed says on  04/10/2012 at 5:33 pm

    and it should be just like a baby has no business in your lap

  3. Christopher says on  04/10/2012 at 5:33 pm

    Magaly, Meg, Jaki, Jacq

  4. it should be.

  5. I agree with this. I’ve seen a dog nearly fall out of a window standing on its owners lap hanging out of the window while they went 45-50 down the road. Not to mention the accidents that could be caused if a dog were to hit the steering wheel or something.

  6. it should already be illegal…it’s so dangerous…to other drivers & to the dogs!

  7. Much as I love my dogs, I agree with this one. Dangerous to dog AND driver and any hapless passenger too.

  8. Lynnz says on  04/10/2012 at 5:34 pm

    Dogs just like children need to be strap down in the car..They can fly out the window just as easy as a human…The worst is seeing a dog in the back of a pick up truck

  9. It should be!

  10. Sarah says on  04/10/2012 at 5:34 pm

    Good. That’s not safe for anyone involved… human or canine.

  11. every state should have this. people just don’t have a clue. i have seen big dogs with head out one window and tail out the other window. now that seems safe.

  12. It’s a shame that there has to be so many Laws dictating what should be common sense!! Like don’t text and drive, no animals should ride in your lap when driving and Wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle!

  13. I had a friend who let his dog sit up front with him. The dog freaked out one day, jumped onto the guys lap, guy swerves, car goes into ditch, and the next thing you know, I have a brother with 2 broken ankles and a broken leg.

  14. Theresa says on  04/10/2012 at 5:35 pm

    YES, its horribly dangerous….unfortunately natasha will sit nowhere else….

  15. Linda-Sunny says on  04/10/2012 at 5:35 pm

    Good! Not safe for anyone. Seat belt your pups, use a crate or a booster seat but if you love them, secure them! You don’t want puppy projectile in the event of a wreck. Hope this passes!

  16. Maria says on  04/10/2012 at 5:36 pm

    About time. This practice is just as dangerous as texting or talking on the phone while driving, if not more.

  17. Maurene says on  04/10/2012 at 5:36 pm

    A law is needed?? Really?

  18. Will says on  04/10/2012 at 5:36 pm

    How about dogs who ride on motorcycles?

  19. Leslie says on  04/10/2012 at 5:36 pm

    Yayyyyy ! Bout time! Just like “texting” while driving your dog sitting on your “lap while driving” should not be allowed. My God how many dogs need to get seriously hurt or killed before the owner/driver wises up!?

  20. Kristel says on  04/10/2012 at 5:37 pm

    Good. As it should be. I believe that if it isn’t safe for a child to do it, it isn’t safe for a dog, either.

  21. I am a huge dog lover, and think this makes perfect sense. That, and if i see another moron with dogs in the back of a truck that arent harnessed……… grrrrrrrrrrrr! too dangerous for the pups!

  22. Melody says on  04/10/2012 at 5:37 pm

    Don’t legislators have better things to do than make dumb laws like this??

  23. Leslie says on  04/10/2012 at 5:37 pm

    BTW,,,There’s a such thing as “seatbelts” for dogs. All pet stores carry them in all sizes :)

  24. why don’t we stop them driving in the back of open vehicles first….

  25. Kathleen says on  04/10/2012 at 5:37 pm


  26. Now where I don’t think drives should have their pets in their laps I don’t think it should be made into a law. How about making it illigal for dog owners to put their dogs (uncrated) in the bed of a truck? It really pisses me off to see dogs loose in the back of a pick up truck.

  27. We don’t need any new laws! It’s already illegal, it’s called distracted driving.

  28. This law…. does make sense

  29. I agree that it should be made into a law and also agree with Maresa that they should be protected on the bed of a truck.

  30. Heather says on  04/10/2012 at 5:39 pm

    as it should be, driving with a dog in your lap is not safe for the dog, or anyone else!

  31. I use special adj. padded canine car seat harness or travel den/crate also fastened. In the event of a accident or simple rest stop it would be so easy for a startled pet to dash or nip/nite out of fear or injury. Not to mention make it easier for 1st responders to assist the accident survivors. Hope this helps a few furdarlins ride safe.

  32. Yes, we need that law.

  33. Think about it. Air bags. As much as I love my dog, I don’t want him slammed into my face at 100 mph.

  34. I agree with the no dog in the lap as you drive, but making people tie them in the car is going to far.

  35. Deb says on  04/10/2012 at 5:41 pm

    If your dog is in your lap, just think what the deployment of the air bag will do to her. Crate your dogs people. This should not be a common sense test or need to be passed into law. Never forget seeing TV video of an accident involving a high speed colision where the offender smashed head on into a heart surgeon on his way to an emergency. Clothes and suitcase were strewn everywhere, and there was the body of the offender’s sheltie lying in the road. Ack!

  36. Erin says on  04/10/2012 at 5:43 pm

    Our boy isn’t even allowed in the front seat, let alone in my lap! The front seat is too dangerous for both the driver (distraction) and the dog (air bags). Our boy is always belted in the back.

  37. Nicole says on  04/10/2012 at 5:43 pm

    Buckle up, pup! Someone served into my car one day while driving with my babe, saw her poor pitty body slam into my glove box :( not going too fast I still wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, we ALWAYS wear a doggy belt in the car.

  38. Even though this should be common sense too many people dont seem to posses it. A dog should not be on your lap while driving anymore than a child should. If they would use their barins for something other than hat racks there woul be no need for these laws

  39. Janice says on  04/10/2012 at 5:44 pm

    I agree with this, not good for anyone

  40. Sandra says on  04/10/2012 at 5:44 pm

    already law in canada…..good idea for everyone

  41. Janice says on  04/10/2012 at 5:44 pm

    Dog is my Co-pilot!

  42. Peggy says on  04/10/2012 at 5:45 pm

    really? umm, well, dogs should not be in your lap while driving anyway,,,geez

  43. I see this all of the time in my neck of the woods. All I can think of is what the airbag deployment would do to these pups.

  44. hahaha i couldn’t have mine in my lap anyway – is a Great Dane LOL i could just see that happening LMAO

  45. i wish they would come up with a law that says no dog or people can sit in the back of pick up trucks, I have seen people and dogs. some dogs are tied up but can still jump out and hang themselves. trucks roll over a lot. we have ditches down here in N.C. in the country, so if you go off the road you hit these ditches and go airborn and flip over. there is a law down here for people to have seatbelts in the back of trucks, now really who has them.

  46. I’d need a lot more lap than I now possess for MY dog to ride there while I’m driving. Come to think of it, longer arms would also work.

  47. Valerie says on  04/10/2012 at 5:51 pm

    agree agree! and my dog is in a safety harness. Love him too much to have him thrown thru windshield if an accident should occur. and what about the ones in the open truck bed, very scary…

  48. Juliette says on  04/10/2012 at 5:51 pm

    I think it’s about time this happened! It needs to be in every state, I see so many drivers with dogs on their laps, and they’re SO distracted. And it’s dangerous for the dog, just like a baby shouldn’t be on the lap, neither should a dog. ]

  49. Lizzy says on  04/10/2012 at 5:52 pm


  50. Sooz says on  04/10/2012 at 5:55 pm

    Thank you for reinforcing this for me. I got discouraged recently trying to install pet BARRIERS for the back seat that I ended up having to return, but the post reminds me how important this is, regardless of how much I enjoy touching my Miniature Doxie (and how much he likes to feel the AC blowing). I just now have gone on and ordered a back seat harness.

  51. actually I am totally for that…I have been an animal activist for 10 years…and my biggest pet peeve I witness is…dogs in cars with the windows cracked slightly (especially in the summer)…I call the cops, should never allow that to happen…too many fatalities…also, if a dog is in your lap and you stop short or are in an accident that baby you so lovingly allow on you lap you will probably do extreme damage to them…yourself with your own body…I’m all for it !!!

  52. it should be

  53. We can’t have a law the guarantees us affordable healthcare but you all want to make it illegal to for a little dog to sit on your lap while driving. Maybe you should check your priorities?

  54. You would think that common sense would be enough.

  55. Why would you want to anyway? With airbags in almost all the cars now, would you want your baby in your lap if one deployed?

  56. Diane says on  04/10/2012 at 5:58 pm

    good !! too many times it looks like they will fall out the window .. lets not even mention it impairing the driver .. I just think how horrid it would be to see a dog fall out and cause more accidents by trying not to hit the dog !!

  57. the fine should actually be MUCH larger because keeping your dog on your lap…or in the front seat…is just plain stupid and should be penalized with a huge fine!

  58. Rio says on  04/10/2012 at 6:00 pm

    Yah, I have to agree with this one. I don’t let my Daisy ride in my lap. She is just too distracting and BIG to be sitting in my lap while I drive.

  59. Beate says on  04/10/2012 at 6:02 pm

    Protect doggies like babies

  60. Diane says on  04/10/2012 at 6:03 pm

    It would probably be safer for the dogs if involved in a wreck.

  61. Doug Traglio, it is possible to do both. Enforcing a law to keep dogs off your lap is a safety issue. If you are in an accident the dog and yourself could be injured by the air bag, the dog could go flying out of the vehicle, the dog could run off in a panic if in an accident and get run over or lost and causes no end of problems for first responders. Dogs should never be loose in the car! They become projectiles in a high speed accident and should be harnessed or crated for the same reasons as our children are. Would you drive with your baby in your lap?

  62. I so agree. I was in an accident in November, and the officer responding mentioned that it was a good thing there were no dogs in the front seats. (I have rescue emblems on the car), and proceeded to say an airbag would kill an 80 lb lab. Mine are all latched into the back or crated now

  63. Wendy says on  04/10/2012 at 6:06 pm

    Hey Doug this site IS ABOUT DOGS!!!!!!! So go rant about healthcare somewhere else !!!!!!!

  64. Lindsay says on  04/10/2012 at 6:06 pm

    As a Rhode Islander, I am glad to see this is happening. My dogs use seatbelts in the back seat.

  65. Trancis Francis says on  04/10/2012 at 6:10 pm

    I’m a dog lover and I would not even question this(I don’t drive)… it just makes sense… They also should be harnessed if you care for your dog.

  66. Lucy M says on  04/10/2012 at 6:11 pm

    I on’t believe you should drive with a pooch on your lap. I have a pooch 120# …that would look really crazy and down right impossible to drive.

  67. Michelle says on  04/10/2012 at 6:11 pm

    Someone has to look out for and speak up for dogs..they don’t know they are in danger at times…people should know that the airbag could kill them if riding in the front at all…

  68. you never hear of the amount of dogs that die in car accidents. i wonder how many.

  69. Bill says on  04/10/2012 at 6:15 pm

    Exactly WHY the State of RI is in such Bad shape. We worry about stupid Crap like this instead of trying to bring Jobs here..

  70. Nancy says on  04/10/2012 at 6:16 pm

    Good for them.

  71. I hope this bill passes! I can’t fathom why people feel its ok to drive with your pet in your lap….

  72. Kerry says on  04/10/2012 at 6:19 pm

    Already illegal here in Queensland, Australia, good idea too, to dangerous!!!

  73. Melissa says on  04/10/2012 at 6:19 pm

    there are probably statistics about doggies in crates and accident survival rates. think about it – it’s no different than humans wearing seat belts. IT IS JUST SAFER!

  74. Buster says on  04/10/2012 at 6:20 pm

    My mom and dad NEVER let me ride on laps! They say it’s not safe. Mom has special harnesses and seatbelts for us. I personally don’t see the issue.

  75. Amanda says on  04/10/2012 at 6:21 pm

    Good they should do it everywhere its dangerous for driver and dog!!!!

  76. Kerry says on  04/10/2012 at 6:24 pm

    Also, texting while driving here is illegal in Australia too, massive fines if you are caught!!! The police ask us to dob in a driver if we see one doing it..

  77. as someone who works in traffic control for a living, this law needs to be put into effect in all states ..while driving with your dog in your lap is considered distracted driving, many dog owners who drive this way don’t consider it distracted driving and are shocked when they get pulled over and a warning or ticket because a dog is in their lap while driving. With that being said, there needs to be something in place stating its illegal to drive with your pet in your lap so everyone knows its illegal. the airbag deploying can kill even a large breed dog instantly, never mind what happens to a small breed dog, if the dog is in the front seat and its been also documented of the airbag forcing a frightened dog out the open window into the middle of a motor vehicle accident risking further injury or death or the dog takes off possibly running into traffic and getting hit or running away. dogs should be securely belted in with a special doggie harness in a rear seat or in a travel crate which is belted in securely.these animals are an extension of your family and you should secure them or belt them into your vehicle just as you would a child or child’s seat.

  78. good . .

  79. Jim says on  04/10/2012 at 6:32 pm

    Stupid legislators have nothing better to do?

  80. Rebecca says on  04/10/2012 at 6:36 pm

    It really is dangerous for the dog as well as the driver and everyone else on the road!

  81. Kya says on  04/10/2012 at 6:37 pm

    I hope it passes, and would like to see it passed EVERYWHERE!

  82. Robert says on  04/10/2012 at 6:39 pm

    If that airbag was to go off????? squished dog…crushed chest…nothing more to say!

  83. I think it is a great thing, I wish my state had this.

  84. Thats bull^%&* don’t the cops have better things to do OR do they just want the money that bad?

  85. Jen says on  04/10/2012 at 6:48 pm

    I support this so much that I don’t even care if the harness lobbyists are behind it.

  86. I think that for everyone’s safety dogs should not be on laps when driving. I hesitate even having my dog sit in the front passenger seat for fear that the airbag will go off and I have had to slam on my brakes causing my dog to hit the dashboard.

  87. The more laws the less common senses…Being responsable is not by law, being responsable is living a life in which, one is shared experiance through and with the live of experianced people…Be available and use the communication skills which we all have to explain and share tips that will save a life…The law at the end only benefit but the bureaucrats and plutocrats..By law is such an easy term in which no being can figure the original reasons….Cars of today have nothing in comon of the ones of yesterday…Yesterday by law a car could not overtake a pedestrian…

  88. Carol says on  04/10/2012 at 6:56 pm


  89. Every state should have that law.

  90. Dogs should be in crates or back seat harnesses. If loose even in the backseat they can come forward and hit the dash, or go through the windshield. We we lucky, a head on crash in 2005 I was able to hold onto my dog who was sitting beside me in a pickup. From then on they ALWAYS wore a safety harness and now in crates. I shudder when I see people with their little dogs laying on the dashboard-even the barriers that keep them in the back? If you are ever rear ended your dog is crushed. Use your brain. There is no excuse for stupid. If your dog is hanging his head out the window? A bug or stone could get him in the face or eye – why do you think cars have windshields?????

  91. Kathryn says on  04/10/2012 at 7:08 pm

    Makes me crazy to see this and I see it a lot! Should have been a law years ago!!! Both hands on the steering wheel, hands free cell phone, no texting and no dogs on your lap! DUH!!!

  92. Good idea.

  93. Lisa says on  04/10/2012 at 7:09 pm

    Mine are barricaded in the back; no seatbelts. Thinking maybe I should consider adding the seatbelts. And yes–they should add “riding in truck beds” and “having any more than 1/2″ of the tip of their noses outside the window” to the list of offenses.

  94. Renee says on  04/10/2012 at 7:15 pm

    Would you let your child set on your lap while driving? Hell no!

  95. Yeb says on  04/10/2012 at 7:19 pm

    Oh please! Soon they’ll outlaw breathing! ENOUGH LAWS. seriously…these over paid elected officials should start governing matters that affect our daily lives like jobs, stability, economy, gas, expenses. Instead they sit around thinking “what law should we make next?”

  96. Suzan says on  04/10/2012 at 7:19 pm

    Tibor I agree but have had two near miss with.people with dogs on their laps. I would like to live too.

  97. I love having my dog in the car with me. But in the back of the car with proper equipment. You wouldn’t dream of driving with a child on your lap, why would you let a dog on your lap.

  98. Carol says on  04/10/2012 at 7:28 pm

    Sigh….common sense would say…..

  99. Judith says on  04/10/2012 at 7:29 pm

    Wonderful! Riding with a dog on your lap is a serious hazzard for the driver, the dog and all of the drivers around them as well as their passengers.

  100. this would certainly decrease the risk of accidents from distracted driving, saving even the nay-sayers from harm and associated costs of caring for indigent victims of these accidents… Also it is economically sound to have your dog restrained when in a car. The money spent on almost any restraint system is much cheaper than dealing with a vet visit after your dog sliding into the floorboard or worse… Using your dog as an airbag is just poor form… I feel that anyone holding a living passenger in their lap, child or otherwise, is practicing a “grow your own airbag” theory of travel which doesn’t involve the informed consent of said passenger.

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