Subaru is one of the brands that have a pet-friendly image, and the company has decided to fund the research for further pet safety testing. This is first-of-its-kind pet safety research, borrowing from driver safety by putting dog-shaped dummies through accident simulations. The Center for Pet Safety has begun using the same Virginia laboratory that tests child seats.
Human safety has largely been the focus of crash tests, but as many drive with man’s best friend along, Subaru hopes this research can help protect pets when in vehicles. Currently there are no safety standards for pet harnesses, tethers, nets, crates, or cages. Drivers with smaller dogs will often drive with them in their laps, while larger dogs either get crated in the back or left loose.
Dave Sullivan, marketing, launch, and strategy manager at Subaru of America, told Automotive News that “We’d like to see something developed over time, but it’s not really our job. We’re trying to do our best to raise the issue.” He also believes one solution may come from testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or SAE International.
Subaru offers its Outback wagon with rubber cargo mats in the event of a pet accident, while other car companies like Volvo offer dog gates for its crossover vehicles. With more automakers offering accessories to keep pets safe and comfortable, there could soon be standard features that help keep them safe in accidents as well.
So far, tests have found that while popular harnesses keep dogs from distracting the driver, they do little to keep them safe in an accident. The harnesses break when stretched from the force of a crash, propelling them head-first toward the front seat or windshield, depending on the dog’s location. These tests may even underestimate the risk to pets, but are a good start to developing proper safety procedures over time.
Source: Automotive News