Proposed legislation in Rhode Island could make driving with a dog on your lap illegal. The reason for creating the bill is potential vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers. The bill was submitted to the General Assembly by Rep. Peter G. Palumbo, a Democrat from Cranston, after one of his constituents recounted the story of an accident that was almost caused when a driver was operating a vehicle with a dog sharing the driver’s seat.
The bill poses penalties of $85 for a first offense, $100 for the second and $125 for subsequent offenses. One might imagine voters to have a negative reaction to such a bill; however, a readers poll reportedly showed 70 percent of that group supported it. The size of the poll was not indicated. A number of user comments on the Providence Journal article about the bill were mocking it.
Distracted driving is far from a laughing matter, because thousands of people are killed each year simply from inattentiveness. In 2009, over 5,000 Americans were killed in accidents caused by distracted driving.
Driver distractions are typically texting, talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking, applying makeup and so forth. Driving with a dog on one’s lap hasn’t been listed as one of the more common distractions, but it shouldn’t be much of an inconvenience to keep a dog in a seat separate from the driver.
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