Over a year ago, I found out that allowing your dog to ride with you on your motorcycle was illegal. Today, I found out that lawmakers in the state of Illinois are discussing making a law that bans driving with a dog on your lap.
Dogs in the driver’s seat — on their owners’ laps — is a dangerous but common habit, said state Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago), co-sponsor of the bill.
“Because I travel, I can’t help but observe the number of people with dogs on their laps,” he said. “It is a public safety concern. If a driver is distracted, certainly it would be a risk to other motorists on the road.”
So, he travels and observes and that’s supposed to be good enough? Please notice that he did not mention ever witnessing this causing an accident in his extensive travels. If dogs on laps are causing accidents, I would hope that we would hear those statistics when trying to get a new law passed, rather than personal, anecdotal observations.
In order to sound more legitimate, the lawmakers start talking about how dogs in accidents can become dangerous projectiles, which is true. However, this has nothing to do with whether the dog is on your lap or not. The dog could be a dangerous projectile in the back seat. So, if the problem is unrestrained dogs, that’s what the proposed law should reflect. They should build public support for it by citing statistics in a scientific manner and build the case for a public safety/health concern. That shouldn’t be too hard to do in today’s safety-obsessed culture.
Instead, the plan in Illinois is to build up to the law they really want — that all animals in cars have to be restrained. (The quoted person is someone who has started a dog seatbelt company after her personal experience with a car accident where her dog was present).
Although she’d like to see a bill that requires dogs to be fully restrained like Burke’s, not just prohibited from riding in a driver’s lap, Ramirez knows changing the trend will take “baby steps.”
“It is the most dangerous when a dog is on your lap,” she said.
All of this discussion goes back to the idea that laws should be in place to punish actual crime, not the potential to cause damage somehow. It’s not as if there’ s a 1:1 ratio of lap dogs to accidents. Not even close. However, I am starting to think the ratio of lawmaker to control freak is coming pretty close…