Ask a Trooper: Why isn't there a law about pets in vehicles?
Q: Why have they not passed a law regarding animals hanging out a driver’s side window, paws on the steering wheel and animals jumping from the front seat to the backseat? I see this so often and most of the time it is elderly people, which I am. Turning the radio on and off is one thing, but an animal moving all over the car or distracting the driver is absurd.
A: I agree that having a pet loose in a vehicle can be very dangerous to the occupants, the pet and others that are sharing the road with this vehicle.
You are correct that there is not a law in Minnesota that directly covers this, but there is a law that covers obstructed view. The law could be applied in this situation.
Animals can be very unpredictable and having one loose in a vehicle can and has caused crashes. All it would take is for the pet to interfere with the driver’s view, steering wheel, brake or accelerator to cause that vehicle to become out of control.
I investigated crashes where an unsecured pet had been thrown into other occupants in the vehicle, causing unnecessary injuries to the people. If you have a pet in your lap and the airbags deploy in a crash, the pet could be thrown into you, causing serious injury or death to you and your pet.
For your pet’s safety and the safety of other passengers in the vehicle, take the extra time and effort to secure your pets in a proper pet carrier.