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June 6, 2012 5:32 AM   Subscribe

The State of New Jersey of recently passed a law requiring that your pets to wear seat belts while driving in the car. Pet owners will have to purchase a seat belt extension harness for their dog. The maximum fine for not having a seat belt on your dog is $1,000.00. Meanwhile, the maximum fine in NJ for not having a seat belt on your child is $46.00
posted by Flood (117 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this the exact situation that roof racks were meant to prevent?
posted by blue_beetle at 5:37 AM on June 6, 2012 [36 favorites]


That's fine inflation for you. Don't worry, someone will be along to point out the disparity and then bump up the fine for kids too.
posted by jaduncan at 5:40 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


My dogs are a bit concerned that I'm getting a truck with running boards.
posted by sonascope at 5:46 AM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well, let's think rationally. Yes, we don't want our kids to die. Probably we care about that more than we care about pets dying.

But that's not what this is about. This is about the tendency of the creature to move around, create a distraction, or become a hazard, that will put other drivers and pedestrians in danger. That's what this is about.
posted by Night_owl at 5:46 AM on June 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


Fines are not necessarily scaled by the perceived importance of the act itself but can be scaled by the perceived importance of "getting the message out". Everybody already knows you have to seat belt a child. Until now, nobody knew you had to seat belt a dog. "OMG $1000 FOR A DOG" stories like this one is an effective way to spread the message.
posted by DU at 5:47 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


pets to wear seat belts while driving in the car

You know, it's hard enough to drive with your head out the window, but restraining yourself like this is just plain unnatural!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:52 AM on June 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


Not to mention that the dog is arguably a greater hazard to others if unbelted, since children generally have at least some concept that "leaping madly about the car and sticking your head out the driver's window" is Not The Done Thing. Thus the greater fine.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 5:53 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not just shocked at the "how much" and that such a law exists, I'm still trying to figure out why. Of course I grew up in a place where we didn't wear shoes most of the time and the back of the truck was for kids and dogs.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:53 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Of course I grew up in a place where we didn't wear shoes most of the time and the back of the truck was for kids and dogs.

So did I. And as an adult, I'm generally willing to consider that regulation for public safety has its place. This seems officious to me.
posted by gauche at 5:55 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Probably we care about that more than we care about pets dying.

Let's not jump to conclusions.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:56 AM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


But which fine applies to unbelted Jersey Shore cast members?
posted by Oddly at 5:56 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I see people driving around here all the time with dogs on their laps. On 6-lane, 45mph roads. A few $1000 fines would be nice.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:56 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


IT's also about the quickest way to earn a fast $1k. Most people seat belt their child. Most will not seat belt their dog. The quickest ticket towards an easy $1k and funds for the state.
posted by stormpooper at 5:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Now everyone and their dog has to wear a seatbelt.
posted by gauche at 5:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


Stephen King would probably approve of this law.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 5:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm assuming that crated animals are exempt, as I'm trying to imagine seat-belting in the cat(s) for occasional road trips or vet visits.

(Like uncleozzy, I see people driving with pets on laps often around here. I think I'm OK with this not being OK)
posted by jquinby at 5:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


To be fair, while every fetus is sacred, children who grow up sufficiently are a burden on state services -- pets, on the other hand, generally do not attend school or require state-supported services. Maybe this is suppose to incentivise an improvement in the pet-child ratio....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:00 AM on June 6, 2012


The lack of parity in fines does strike me as bothersome, but I'm all for the restraining-pets law (especially when I read the story about what spurred it).

Then again, I've put the seat belt in the back seat around my cat carrier (with my cat in it) for years, so you know I'm all about safety.
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:00 AM on June 6, 2012


Oddly: "But which fine applies to unbelted Jersey Shore cast members?"

What's the state law on transportation of hazardous materials?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:01 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This just in: Current laws weren't written with the same rational thought as had been done in previous generations!!!

In unrelated news, the government hates you. Film at eleven.

Color me logically unimpressed.
posted by Blue_Villain at 6:06 AM on June 6, 2012


Excellent work NJ! Putting animals in seat belts seems easy to do and makes a lot of sense. For extra enjoyment why not mandate that pets must be in costume at the same time?

Over regulate much?
posted by nowhere man at 6:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


America is the land of overregulation, I don't think anyone can really effectively dispute that at this point.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:11 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is about the tendency of the creature to move around, create a distraction, or become a hazard, that will put other drivers and pedestrians in danger.

Not all children are creatures.
posted by HumanComplex at 6:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't kid yourself - it's another regressive tax disguised as a trumped-up public safety scare.

Texting while driving is a serious issue, but it falls under the already existing "reckless driving" laws - as does allowing a rambunctious animal loose in the cabin. We had a beagle we tried to let run free, but she would try to snuggle up to the driver's feet, and in one memorable occasion, closed the window on her head accidentally by standing on the switch - three times in a row. It was maybe two times in the car, tops, before we put her in a carrier in the back seat. Most drivers figure this out, and the ones that don't are vanishingly rare.

So, it's basically like the new school of "distracted driving" laws. Any cellphone use, even hands-free, is now a ticketable offense. Now, having a dog sticking his head out the window is a ticketable offense - and a steep one, $1000. Is there really a rash of pet-caused accidents? Is it really almost as bad as being drunk behind the wheel?

Of course not. The state of New Jersey and its municipalities need more revenue, and aren't going to get it from the rich. So, they're going to get it from pet owners. As a "public safety issue."
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:16 AM on June 6, 2012 [18 favorites]


Who let the Libertarians in?

Putting animals in seat belts seems easy to do and makes a lot of sense.

You're being sarcastic but actually this is basically exactly right. At least for dogs. Dunno about cats. The article doesn't really give a lot of details, but I assume pet carriers and such are also OK.
posted by kmz at 6:17 AM on June 6, 2012


Does a severed horse head count as a pet?
posted by swift at 6:18 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


In an accident, an unsecured animal will become a projectile.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:18 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I used to seatbelt my gigantic labrador retriever. Mostly because I did not want 100+ pounds of dog flying into me in a fast stop or collision. Actually, no, mostly because I hate driving and did not want him killed in an accident if the restraint could have prevented it. Now I own cats and don't drive. There are generally speaking hooks & such on cat carriers so they can be seatbelted in.

Then again, I put on my seatbelt in taxicabs, so clearly I am paranoid.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:21 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any cellphone use, even hands-free, is now a ticketable offense.

Hands free cellphone use is dangerous. Just as dangerous as using a non-hands free phone, actually.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:21 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I put on my seatbelt in taxicabs

The way cabbies drive, hell yeah I put my seat belt on!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:23 AM on June 6, 2012


It was maybe two times in the car, tops, before we put her in a carrier in the back seat. Most drivers figure this out, and the ones that don't are vanishingly rare.

And everybody knows that much like how you can't get pregnant the first time you have sex, you can't cause an accident the first few times you're a negligent driver.

even hands-free

A bit off-topic, but hands-free has negligible safety benefits for driving.
posted by kmz at 6:23 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just as dangerous as using a non-hands free phone, actually.

As far as the distraction factor goes, yes, but when you throw in the fact that it takes your hand off the wheel, not so much.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:24 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. Make something illegal that wasn't before;
2. Impose a whacking great fine on the now-criminal behavior;
3. Profit!

Note that there is no ?? step.
posted by Malor at 6:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Jersey Turnpike wasn't bringing in enough money, apparently.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:30 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course the steepness of the fine was determined by the seriousness of the offense. Of course it was. Bureaucrats have a long rich history of scaling fines to fit the punishment.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:32 AM on June 6, 2012


The article says unrestrained, so I'll assume that cat carriers and dog crates are still good.

I'm fine with this in theory - but then, I'm the sort who once secured a hamster carrier with a seat belt and won't put the car in motion until all humans have buckled themselves. My dog has a seatbelt. She likes to ride shotgun. We get a lot of attention at the drive-through library.

The fine is ridiculous, though. Scale it back down to match the kids' fee and we got a deal.
posted by cmyk at 6:40 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I ask this question honestly. If hands-free cell-phone use is still dangerously distracting because it makes the driver think about something other than driving, what about talking the the person in the passenger seat, learning Italian via CD or listening to an emotional news story/audiobook? I think I'm a pretty good driver, but I've had a couple of highway daydream related near misses in my life.
posted by thivaia at 6:40 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Then again, I put on my seatbelt in taxicabs, so clearly I am paranoid.

I know a lot of ER doctors & PAs in New York City and they all tell me that they frequently see patients who have lacerations from when their cabbies stopped short and their heads slammed into that plastic barrier. So buckle up in cabs!

And stop driving around with your dog on your lap!
posted by Drab_Parts at 6:42 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]



But which fine applies to unbelted Jersey Shore cast members?


I am more concerned about the fine for letting them roam about unmuzzled, which is clearly not high enough.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:42 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like how the writer of that first Yahoo article says, "That's why Michelle specifically asked that the name of the driver not be mentioned in this article, as she feels he didn't actually mean to harm -- let alone kill -- anyone." and then, in the very next sentence, links to another story naming the driver. Classy!
posted by xedrik at 6:42 AM on June 6, 2012


Then again, I put on my seatbelt in taxicabs, so clearly I am paranoid.

So buckle up in cabs!

Wait, isn't that required anyway? In Texas at least all passengers in a car are required to wear seatbelts, and I assume there's no special exemption for cabs. The only time I don't wear seatbelts in a cab is in Beijing where they're usually broken (and sadly where I almost certainly need them the most).
posted by kmz at 6:45 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not just shocked at the "how much" and that such a law exists, I'm still trying to figure out why.

I'm still trying to figure out how. Seriously, where do you put the belt? Dogs don't have armpits, or laps. (Well, they do, but not when they're sitting.)

And how the hell does this work with cats?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:50 AM on June 6, 2012


what about talking the the person in the passenger seat, learning Italian via CD or listening to an emotional news story/audiobook

I tried listening to audiobooks in the car when I had a really long commute, but I found myself either not paying attention to the book, or not paying attention to the road, so I had to stop. Occasionally, a really enthralling narrative podcast has the same effect, but I am usually able to divide my attention better with them. Something about trying to follow a narrative while driving is a real problem for me.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:52 AM on June 6, 2012


EmpressCallipygos: "I'm still trying to figure out how."

Something like this is, I presume, what they are talking about. There are many manufacturers of pet seatbelts now.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:53 AM on June 6, 2012


Even though I grew up with parents who let the (very well disciplined) dogs ride unrestrained in the front seat of the car when we travelled as a chiild, I still assumed this law was about restraining the carrier. Also I tend to put the cat carrier in the "trunk" (hatchback) when I take the cats to the vet because it's so much easier to get it in and out, and I was wondering how that was going to work under this kind of law. There are no seat belts in there!

Default assumptions: always interesting.
posted by immlass at 6:54 AM on June 6, 2012


I am afraid the NJ is becoming the new Florida.
posted by caddis at 6:54 AM on June 6, 2012


If hands-free cell-phone use is still dangerously distracting because it makes the driver think about something other than driving, what about talking the the person in the passenger seat.

A person who is sitting in the passenger seat is presumably aware of the environment and will naturally yield whatever attention he or she is taking from the driver when traffic conditions require it.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:55 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


But which fine applies to unbelted Jersey Shore cast members?

I am more concerned about the fine for letting them roam about unmuzzled, which is clearly not high enough.


You guys are just treating the symptoms. We need to end the practice of offshore toxic waste dumping that has lead to these tragic mutations!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:59 AM on June 6, 2012


Dogs can be placed in harnesses that click right into the seat belt buckle. Cats don't take well to harnesses for the most part, so they need to go in a carrier. And the carrier needs to be buckled down.

(Warning, article ends in asinine pun)

We had a beagle we tried to let run free, but she would try to snuggle up to the driver's feet, and in one memorable occasion, closed the window on her head accidentally by standing on the switch - three times in a row. It was maybe two times in the car, tops, before we put her in a carrier in the back seat. Most drivers figure this out, and the ones that don't are vanishingly rare.

You listed no fewer than four incidents that could easily have led to tragedy before you did the obvious and restrained your dog, yet you think it should not be law to restrain a pet in a moving vehicle on a public road.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


According to this news story, the NJSPCA are the ones who issue the fine, not the state troopers.

The cited authority in that story is N.J.S.A. 4:22-18, which is part of the animal cruelty statutes listed in Agriculture and Domestic Animals. I don't see an approved bill from the NJ Legislature (Bills By Governor Action) that affects animals, so it's probably still
A person who shall carry, or cause to be carried, a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense and punished as provided in subsection a. of R.S.4:22-17.
4:22-17a lists the penalty for general animal cruelty.
4:22-17. a. A person who shall:
(1) Overdrive, overload, drive when overloaded, overwork, deprive of necessary sustenance, abuse, or needlessly kill a living animal or creature;
(2) Cause or procure any such acts to be done; or
(3) Inflict unnecessary cruelty upon a living animal or creature, or unnecessarily fail to provide a living animal or creature of which the person has charge either as an owner or otherwise with proper food, drink, shelter or protection from the weather, or leave it unattended in a vehicle under inhumane conditions adverse to the health or welfare of the living animal or creature-

Shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense, and notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:43-3 to the contrary, for every such offense shall be fined not less than $250 nor more than $1,000, or be imprisoned for a term of not more than six months, or both, in the discretion of the court. In addition, the court (1) shall impose a term of community service of up to 30 days, and may direct that the term of community service be served in providing assistance to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a district (county) society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or any other recognized organization concerned with the prevention of cruelty to animals or the humane treatment and care of animals, or to a municipality's animal control or animal population control program; (2) may require the violator to pay restitution or otherwise reimburse any costs for
food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care or treatment, or other costs, incurred by any agency, entity, or organization investigating the violation, including but not limited to the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a district (county) society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, any other recognized organization concerned with the prevention of cruelty to animals or the humane treatment and care of animals, or a local or State governmental entity; and (3) may impose any other appropriate penalties established for a disorderly persons offense pursuant to Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.
I am not a lawyer, et.c., but this looks like it's not a new law, just a press conference from the NJSPCA reminding people that they have the authority to fine people for improperly transporting animals.
posted by zamboni at 7:01 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


"OMG $1000 FOR A DOG" stories like this one is an effective way to spread the message.

Under Emperor Fizz's New System of Fines for restricted items:
- Drinking 32 oz. bottle of cola/sugar drink = $5,000.00
- Smoking in a bar/home/talking about smoking/thinking about smoking/using the word smoking/reading this rule about smoking = $60,000.00
- Illegal Parking = $1,000.00
- Not having fishing license = $100,000.00
- Double post on metafilter = $1,000,000.00
- Pepsi blue post on metafilter = $5.00
- Parody "Metafilter: _______________ < - Something hilarious = $23.00
posted by Fizz at 7:06 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hands free cellphone use is dangerous. Just as dangerous as using a non-hands free phone, actually.

I don't believe that for an instant. It's safety-prude mental masturbation of the highest order, and enables regressive taxation under the guise of virtuous punishment. I will need some very hard and corroborated proof indeed that hands-free phone conversations are any kind of public nuisance. Saying it's as dangerous as a regular cell call is patently absurd, and reveals serious flaws in testing methodology, or outright fudging of the numbers. With a normal cell phone, you do not have both hands on the wheel, or even one hand on the wheel if you need to shift... if not having hands on the wheel while maneuvering in traffic is not significantly less safe, well, Occam's razor says the study is full of shit. It's there to shore up an agenda.

The agenda is more revenue through tickets, rather than through fair and progressive taxation. Other, far less questionable studies show that minorities and the poor are overwhelmingly more targeted than middle class or rich in traffic stops.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:07 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a good idea to belt your pet. I know someone who was in a fender bender, but their dog was killed because the impact made it fly forward and it's back was broken.
The disparity of the fine compared to not buckling a child reminds me of my state where it's illegal to hit an animal, but it's okay to hit your child as long as you're doing it for correction.
posted by AnnElk at 7:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not just shocked at the "how much" and that such a law exists, I'm still trying to figure out why.

(1) Unconstrained pets are a distraction
(2) In the event of a wreck, unconstrained pets turn into however-many-pound projectiles bouncing around the cabin. Being hit in the head/neck by a golden retriever doing 40 relative to you would be ouchy.

I'm still trying to figure out how.

Put the pet in a crate. Secure the crate appropriately.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So what do you do with a SUV that has a caged off section for your pet? This was designed to keep your dog away from drivers/passengers, and will prevent them from becoming a projectile in the event of a crash. However, there are no seat belts in the back. Does this count?
posted by Crash at 7:12 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll give you 1), but...

2) In the event of a wreck, unconstrained pets turn into however-many-pound projectiles bouncing around the cabin. Being hit in the head/neck by a golden retriever doing 40 relative to you would be ouchy.

How much is the fine for not belting your groceries or other heavy items carried in the cab of the car?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:13 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If hands-free cell-phone use is still dangerously distracting because it makes the driver think about something other than driving, what about talking the the person in the passenger seat, learning Italian via CD or listening to an emotional news story/audiobook?

Not this again.

The passenger gets many non-verbal cues that they need to shut up, and the audio books gets ignored when you concentrate, but when you're talking to someone on the phone, they don't know when to stop talking *and* they are directly addressing you. Even audiobooks, while more distracting that music, aren't as distracting as your mom talking to you over a phone.

This has been tested repeatedly. Cell phone conversations are vastly more distracting that passengers or recorded audio sources, and it's worse when it's handheld -- esp. when the driver accidentally drops the phone while driving, because when they do, a million years of evolution makes them look at the falling phone.

The reason we need these "inane" laws is that people keep doing these things, then hitting other things, which costs other people, at best, real money and at worst, their lives. If the only people affected by a car wreck were the people in the car that caused it, it wouldn't be an issue, but that almost never happens. The cost of an accident is much larger than merely the cost to fix your car, and a lot of that cost ends up on the population at large. There's the cost of the police, fire and ambulances that are called -- so, crew time, wear and tear, supply usage, etc. There's the congestion caused by the accident taking time away from other people. There's the repairs to he roadway and infrastructure around it -- not everybody manages to miss all the lights and barriers. Then, of course, if you hit someone else, there's the harm they have to make good, and there's probably more police, more fire, more ambulance, more bent metal and so forth. There's the cost of insurance, which is passed onto everyone in the insurance pool - and in the future, that will mean "everybody in the country. There's the cost when you find out you where hit by someone who is underinsured, or not insured, and doesn't have any money, so guess what? At best, everyone in that insurance pool -- who didn't cause the accident -- is paying. At worst, the guy you hit eats the cost.

I saw a guy run a red light and drive another guy into a traffic light three weeks ago. That cost the City a good $10K total right there to respond, clear up the roadway, and replace the light. It costs a lot of people a great deal of time because that intersection was all fucked up during rush hour. I have no idea what it cost the people in the car that was hit -- once by the asshole who couldn't be bothered to stop, and once by the light post. And yet, people bitch about the $130 fine for running the red light?

Tell you what. Come up with a system that puts all, and I mean *all* of the cost of an accident onto the driver that caused it, and then we won't need the fines. But the reason we do need the fines is the drivers continue to do incredibly stupid things, causing immense harm, which, by and large, every other taxpayer has to pay for.

Since that won't happen, if you insist on having a live animal freely roaming around you while piloting two tons of metal? Hell, $1000 is a good start. And as to it being cheaper than an unbelted child? You're right, that's not right. That fine should be, oh, $5K.

Perhaps people will stop bitching about the costs of public transport when they really understand the costs of private transport. But I doubt that.
posted by eriko at 7:14 AM on June 6, 2012 [27 favorites]


I've traveled thousands of miles with a free-roaming cat. However, I would not have done so unless I had a passenger who could control her and keep her from getting in my way. Wouldn't have done so with a hyperactive animal either.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:17 AM on June 6, 2012


And yet, people bitch about the $130 fine for running the red light?

Who's complaining about fines for running red lights?

And if this is a comment about red light cameras, most people complain about the fact that when installing them, some municipalities simultaneously dropped the amount of time for the yellow light in order to increase the number of fines they could collect (also affecting people getting rear-ended bc they were forced to slam on their brakes).
posted by inigo2 at 7:18 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


nowhere man: For extra enjoyment why not mandate that pets must be in costume at the same time?

You're missing a huge opportunity in the field of pet costumes. Dress your pet as your child, and now it can roam about. At worst, you get a $46 fine!

And when you get pulled over for an unrestrained pet, you get to ask the police officer "Are you saying my son/daughter is a dog? How dare you! S/he might not be as generically attractive as the other kids, but s/he is beautiful to me!"
posted by filthy light thief at 7:21 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is just linkbait. The main article is a "commentary" and the lead sentence doesn't even seem to be true: the link to "passed a law" doesn't say anyone passed a law. Then conflating this existing fine with an arbitrary other fine is just manufacturing outrage, which all the above posters have bought right into. This is the level of a local news story. Bravo.
posted by smackfu at 7:28 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will need some very hard and corroborated proof indeed that hands-free phone conversations are any kind of public nuisance. Saying it's as dangerous as a regular cell call is patently absurd, and reveals serious flaws in testing methodology, or outright fudging of the numbers. With a normal cell phone, you do not have both hands on the wheel, or even one hand on the wheel if you need to shift... if not having hands on the wheel while maneuvering in traffic is not significantly less safe, well, Occam's razor says the study is full of shit. It's there to shore up an agenda.

The wikipedia article on mobile phones and driving safety has several citations that you may want to review. The consensus seems to be that it's the cognitive load that's the problem, not the occupied hand.
posted by zamboni at 7:28 AM on June 6, 2012 [14 favorites]


Even audiobooks, while more distracting that music, aren't as distracting as your mom talking to you over a phone.

So you're saying you've made it to adulthood but haven't yet learned how to tune your mother out when talking to her on the phone? Now I'm really confused!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:30 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


flapjax at midnite: "America is the land of overregulation, I don't think anyone can really effectively dispute that at this point."

Wait, you're talking about the Canadian part of America, right?

Because the US is pretty much a free-for-all, as long as it doesn't involve women or sex.
posted by schmod at 7:31 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saying it's as dangerous as a regular cell call is patently absurd, and reveals serious flaws in testing methodology, or outright fudging of the numbers

Well obviously any study that doesn't corroborate what you already believe has methodology flaws. That's just logic. Seriously, people smarter than you have studied this repeatedly, and the conclusion is: just as unsafe. Your assumption that it is taking your hands off the wheel, rather than not paying attention, that creates the danger is wrong.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:34 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Any chance conservative talk radio will dig into Chris Christie for signing this? lol
posted by jeffburdges at 7:38 AM on June 6, 2012


Your assumption that it is taking your hands off the wheel, rather than not paying attention, that creates the danger is wrong.

No, the assumption is taking your hands off the wheel, in addition to not paying attention, is more dangerous than simply not paying attention.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2012


No, the assumption is taking your hands off the wheel, in addition to not paying attention, is more dangerous than simply not paying attention.

But to argue that use of hands-free cell phones should be legal, you have to believe that the distraction is not significant enough of an issue to be worth legislating against. Obviously, the data shows that that simply isn't true.

It also makes some sense when you think about it; if your reaction time is lower enough that you're not able to respond to whatever is going to cause the accident, it doesn't matter if your hands are on the wheel or not. A large number of collisions don't even require you to do anything with your hands to avoid them, but rather simply apply the brakes. People are also pretty good at compensating for risk, so I'm guessing that people who use hands-free devices and have been sold on the nonsense that they are safer are using them in riskier traffic environments than people who are using regular cell phones.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:53 AM on June 6, 2012


Don't kid yourself - it's another regressive tax disguised as a trumped-up public safety scare.

Hurry up safety laws in the wake of tragic accidents are standard operating procedure. Consider the stop signs that magically appear just after the fatal collision site.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:56 AM on June 6, 2012


....appear on sites that have witnessed fatal collisions.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:58 AM on June 6, 2012


In an accident, an unsecured animal will become a projectile.

And injured, frightened, and unrestrained animal is a danger to rescuers, too.

Otherwise well behaved animals can be wildly unpredictable when bad things happen.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The reason we need these "inane" laws is that people keep doing these things, then hitting other things, which costs other people, at best, real money and at worst, their lives.

Bullshit. The overall rate in traffic accidents, not fatal accidents but accidents overall, from 1990, before ubiquitous cellphone use, to 2009 when half the country had their hand to their ear during the commute, dropped from 11.5 million to 10.8 million. This is despite an increase of drivers on the road, and the total number of miles driven.

There is no "distracted driving" plague.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:09 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Unrestrained dogs are not a distraction while driving. The ones that pop-up inside a car in parking lot and start barking at you? Yeah, fine the shit out of those.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:11 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is probably much more about the fact that the fine for not having your child buckled in was set many, many years ago and has not been adjusted for inflation, while the pet safety law is new.
posted by orange swan at 8:17 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is probably much more about the fact that the fine for not having your child buckled in was set many, many years ago and has not been adjusted for inflation, while the pet safety law is new.

It hadn't really occurred to me that most US laws I've seen don't use a standard scale or penalty units. Are there states that do? Is there a legal reason why they don't?
posted by zamboni at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2012


Bullshit. The overall rate in traffic accidents, not fatal accidents but accidents overall, from 1990, before ubiquitous cellphone use, to 2009 when half the country had their hand to their ear during the commute, dropped from 11.5 million to 10.8 million. This is despite an increase of drivers on the road, and the total number of miles driven.

And that has nothing to do with cars having more safety features and more driving safety regulations, I'm sure.

Unrestrained dogs are not a distraction while driving.

Unsupported blanket statements always convince me!
posted by kmz at 8:28 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The overall rate in traffic accidents, not fatal accidents but accidents overall, from 1990, before ubiquitous cellphone use, to 2009 when half the country had their hand to their ear during the commute, dropped from 11.5 million to 10.8 million. This is despite an increase of drivers on the road, and the total number of miles driven.

These numbers, if true, might prove that, in general, people are better drivers, or that roads are safer, but they have nothing to do with whether driving while using a cell phone is dangerous.
posted by gauche at 8:29 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


How much is the fine for not belting your groceries or other heavy items carried in the cab of the car?

Zero. Is it supposed to be shocking that one hazardous thing is regulated while an arguably similar hazardous thing isn't, instead of that having been a normal part of life for the past few thousand years?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:33 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bullshit. The overall rate in traffic accidents, not fatal accidents but accidents overall, from 1990, before ubiquitous cellphone use, to 2009 when half the country had their hand to their ear during the commute, dropped from 11.5 million to 10.8 million. This is despite an increase of drivers on the road, and the total number of miles driven.

Those numbers could be due to a huge number of confounding factors, including better drivers education, better designed roadways, better designed cars or fewer accidents being reported.* They don't relate to whether or not using a cellphone while driving is dangerous. Looking at total traffic accident numbers is a terrible way to judge that. If you're arguing that using your cellphone while driving is not dangerous then find a study that was designed to study the safety of using a cellphone while driving and found that it wasn't a problem.

*I'm not saying these are the reason, just possibilities that occurred to me.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:36 AM on June 6, 2012


Oh god my dogmonster is SUCH a distraction while we're driving. And we drive a lot. Usually to get groomed. And back home again.

He is a lazy beast (okay, we both are), and the thing he wants in the world more than anything else is to be scratched on the head. For this reason, he's cultivated a deep jealousy for the gear shift in my car, as it gets all the attention while I'm driving. Often, he'll flop himself in the passenger seat, and nudge my hand off the gear shift with his nose as a not-so-subtle hint that I should maybe start scratching his head now.

Also, we have very serious conversations while driving. Well. We always have very serious conversations. But especially in the car. I mean, with eyes like that, how can you not want to discuss something Very Serious all the time? But that's hardly distracting.

I'm glad we live in the land of gubmint so small you can drown it in your bathtub, so that I don't have to worry about fascist laws keeping him from doing this totally adorable thing that I love so much. Restraints make him a sad boy.

But when we're driving he never distracts me by getting in my lap. He only ever sits in my lap when we're playing Santa Claus. He doesn't really get the concept yet, but I think he looks fabulous with his white whiskers!
posted by jph at 8:43 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hands free cellphone use is dangerous. Just as dangerous as using a non-hands free phone, actually.

So is talking to a passenger. We should just take care of all these distractions by passing a law requiring all drivers (and passengers) be muzzled while the car is in motion. Just think of the people who would be saved and all the revenues that would be generated!
posted by cosmic.osmo at 8:46 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It hadn't really occurred to me that most US laws I've seen don't use a standard scale or penalty units. Are there states that do? Is there a legal reason why they don't?

It looks like the Feds amend the bills directly, in batches. Weird.
posted by zamboni at 8:47 AM on June 6, 2012


There are 10 million automobile accidents a year. You know how many there would be if cars didn't have wheels on them? Zero.

Do the math.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:48 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I prefer dogs to children.
posted by Trurl at 8:49 AM on June 6, 2012


Dog in plane.
posted by pianomover at 8:50 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


So is talking to a passenger. We should just take care of all these distractions by passing a law requiring all drivers (and passengers) be muzzled while the car is in motion. Just think of the people who would be saved and all the revenues that would be generated!

It's not nearly as bad as using a cell phone. Once again, this has been studied. Passengers stop or reduce their talking in difficult traffic environments and they respond to traffic stimuli that the driver should care about. The two situations aren't comparable.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:56 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is it supposed to be shocking that one hazardous thing is regulated while an arguably similar hazardous thing isn't, instead of that having been a normal part of life for the past few thousand years?

No, but when something is used as justification for regulation you'd think that the justification would apply accross the board (otherwise it's what they call arbitrary and capricious), which suggests to me that it was not the actual justification. Perhaps the safety of the animal was a factor?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:08 AM on June 6, 2012


Boy howdy, it sure never gets old watching folk smugly brandish arguments they just pulled out of their ass in the face of links to actual data, does it?
posted by ominous_paws at 9:14 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a woman around town who drives a convertible Mini Cooper. Her dog (some kind of medium-sized, spotted, short-haired retriever mutt) stands on his hind legs in the backseat, with his front paws up on her head rest. He barks constantly. He barks in 4/4 time, with each bark a quarter note. You can hear him coming from two blocks away, and you can actually match your footsteps to his barks, even as they doppler away. The woman grins the whole time, and the whole thing makes me grin like a loon too. I love it when I see them driving around.

On the one hand, I would hate it if that joyous dog had to wear a seatbelt. On the other, seeing him seated in the back seat, arfing away while strapped in by a shoulder belt, would make it that much more awesome.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:26 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Product name for pet seatbelt. Sta-boy.
posted by pianomover at 9:31 AM on June 6, 2012


Unrestrained dogs are not a distraction while driving.

Unsupported blanket statements always convince me!
posted by kmz at 11:28 AM on June 6 [+] [!]

Boy howdy, it sure never gets old watching folk smugly brandish arguments they just pulled out of their ass in the face of links to actual data, does it?
posted by ominous_paws at 12:14 PM on June 6 [+] [!]


I am not seeing a lot of data here. Am I missing a link; the crap in this thread makes it a little difficult to motivate myself to read it closely. Where are the statistics on how many accidents are caused by unrestrained pets? Anecdotes make bad data. If this is really a big problem then perhaps this is good law, but it seems to me more likely another instance of legislators solving a nonexistent or unimportant problem rather than face the really difficult issues like people not having any jobs and losing their homes etc.
posted by caddis at 9:34 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Driving through NC to the outer banks, I was positioned behind a truck going 75ish for a few miles. I've never driven more shittily- the truck had two enormous dogs in its flatbed, standing up with their front paws on the bed rim so they could get their heads in the slipstream. Occasionally their feet would slip and I'd have a mini-stroke. I mean the dogs are probably fine and all, and had a good time, but jesus christ
posted by MangyCarface at 9:37 AM on June 6, 2012


Caddis: my own gripe was more about the tiresome derail into hands free phone usage coming up yet again.
Interesting, though: if a car ride unrestrained gives dogs a non-zero chance of being turned into airborne black pudding, but incidents are rare as not a lot of people give their dogs rides... I think I'd still be in favour of legislation.
I'm sure there's space to do this and try to save jobs, homes etc - that's a bit of a mean spirited dichotomy, no?
posted by ominous_paws at 9:45 AM on June 6, 2012


According to the article that dirgiibleman linked to, animals must be buckled in, regardless of whether they're in a carrier or not (specifically referring to cats). Obviously, this removes the entire rational premise of the law with regards to animals being a distraction, to bring it around to the fact the NJ needs supplement their income. While I honestly doubt that the $1,000 fine would ever be imposed unless their are serious extenuating circumstances, the first fine of $250 is still pretty steep and would definitely serve its purpose as an income generator.

I take my cat to the vet in a backpack-type soft carrier, and I see absolutely no reason to secure the carrier during any drive. The carrier sits on the rear floorboards, and would not present a unsecured hazard within the cabin unless there was a roll-over, in which case I think the least of my worries would be a 10 Oz, canvas zipped carrier with a 10 LB cat in it. Getting punched in the back of the head would probably do more damage to me.

With that said, Dog Copters
posted by Debaser626 at 9:55 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quite true O_paws, and why stop with restraints? Sometimes, many times, almost never (you choose as we have no data) they fail to work, but we do know that staying out of the vehicle reduces puppy pudding incidents so why not ban pets from vehicles? There is a non-zero chance here. We would instead require veterinarians and dog bathers to make house calls. You can never be too safe and we really want the government to decide these issues for us.
posted by caddis at 9:57 AM on June 6, 2012


gauche: " Of course I grew up in a place where we didn't wear shoes most of the time and the back of the truck was for kids and dogs.

So did I. And as an adult, I'm generally willing to consider that regulation for public safety has its place. This seems officious to me.
"

Is it a solution in search of a problem? How many accidents have actually occurred as a result of unbelted dogs? Does this apply to all animals? What about when we take my scared as shit cat to the vet, who only can handle being in a soft blanket and held by her "mommy", not trapped in a hard cage. She doesn't walk around. She doesn't cause any problems, what about that instance?

I blame the burgeoning dog-seat-belt industry for getting its grubby paws all over our tainted officials.
posted by symbioid at 10:31 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hate putting my cats in carriers to go to the vet--and they hate it worse--but I do it because I know it is safest for them and for me.

My old demon cat used to Houdini himself out of his (snapped AND zipped) carrier, and then jump up on to the very narrow ledge around the windows and try to walk around our mini-van. He once did this when I was taking him to the vet for a hurt leg, which made me turn the van around and come home, figuring it couldn't hurt him that badly if he was jumping all over the place!

A little girl in the car next to me saw this happen, and was laughing and pointing at Demon Cat, but I was a nervous wreck all the way home, worried he'd fall and hurt himself, that he'd hide under my feet and keep me from braking, etc. He did actually climb up on the driver seat behind my head and MRROW angrily at me, but we got home without incident..

I don't have a problem with a law to keep drivers from being distracted, and this won't affect me personally.

Dogs just look so joyful in cars, though! I hate to take away their fun. All the ones I have seen just go back and forth from window to the other (so they won't miss anything?).

The pet projectile issue is a good point. It has to happen, yet I can't recall ever seeing an accident report where they mentioned a pet that was riding in the car dying as a result of not being restrained. That's interesting. I wonder why that is?

Also, Bulgaroktonos, I am dubious at the hands-free versus handheld phones safety studies as well, but only because I know teens (and adults, too!) TEXT when they are driving, which is even more insane than talking to a passenger or on a phone. You've got hands and eyes and mind all focused on that phone when texting, so hwo can that not be inherently riskier than hamds-free talking?

New Jersey is not becoming the new Florida in this regard, either, because sadly in Florida it is not even specifically illegal to hold a cell phone while driving.
posted by misha at 10:35 AM on June 6, 2012


When it comes to road safety I am quite happy to have the government decide and rule on the issues for me. Have there ever been examples of private individuals being allowed to set their own road rules as they like that turned out well?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:36 AM on June 6, 2012


No, but when something is used as justification for regulation you'd think that the justification would apply accross the board

You would only ever actually believe that if you were completely ignorant of the history of human law.

I do not think you actually believe that. I think you're disingenuously offering that reasoning, even though you do not believe it, because you happen to think this specific regulation is silly.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:47 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Caddis: I'm not sure you've got much of a point amidst all that lovely sly bluster and exaggeration. As far as I can see, a dog has as much chance of becoming pate or a missile in a crash as a child does; so I'm fine with legislating for restraint (and honestly would be happy with them in a travel crate securely on the floor or whatever).

If you really think making children belt up is an act of ludicrous gubmint intervention - I mean, seatbelts fail, why not ban kids from cars completely? - then I don't think we've got much to say to each other.

And you're damn right that I want the government making the calls on road safety. I've seen enough jackasses making their own disastrous calls to be sure of that.
posted by ominous_paws at 10:49 AM on June 6, 2012


As I said above, the law they're citing is part of the animal cruelty statutes. It is enforced by the NJSPCA for the benefit of the animal, not the driver. This whole thing is a non-story about a press conference reminding people to secure their pets while travelling. They mentioned distracted driving during the event, specifically calling out cell phones, not pets, as a major cause.
Martinez noted that more than 5,400 Americans die each year in car accidents caused by distracted driving. "Some were trying to eat something between meetings while others were applying makeup before getting to their offices. But most of these folks were talking or texting on their cell phones."
It has to happen, yet I can't recall ever seeing an accident report where they mentioned a pet that was riding in the car dying as a result of not being restrained. That's interesting. I wonder why that is?

I suspect that it's not very noteworthy for the public, but it does happen sometimes. A cursory googling turns up numerous animals that ran away and were lost after traffic accidents.

Here's a couple:

After 23 days, dog found safe in Corbin neighborhood
Dooley the dog was lost in the Nevada desert for nearly two months.
On the day after Goss' funeral, Tasha had been found wandering near the crash site, hungry and thirsty and covered in ticks.

I'd assume the ones that are never found don't make the human interest pages.
posted by zamboni at 11:04 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's how this works here in the actual real world:

Middle-aged white woman in a 2012 Toyota Camry has Schmootzy-Poo on her lap, panting happily, paws on the wheel.

Young latino man has Bo the Big Fluffy Mutt hanging his head out the passenger side of his beat up and rusty '94 Mazda pickup.

Which one do you think the police are going to stop?

OK, let's say Officer Pet-Friendly stops them both. Which one is he going to warn, and which one is he going to throw the book at?

OK, let's say (the nigh mythical) Officer Colorblind dutifully writes them both $250 tickets. Which one grumbles and sends in the check, and which one decides to buy groceries for the family instead of pay the fine, because there isn't money for both? What happens to that person when they're pulled over driving to work on a suspended license? What happens to their job? What happens to their family?

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

If they were serious about seatbelting pets for driving safety, they'd use a public awareness campaign. This is about taxing and disenfranchising the poor.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


If they were serious about seatbelting pets for driving safety, they'd use a public awareness campaign. This is about taxing and disenfranchising the poor.

Holding a press conference is an attempt to create public awareness. You may have a point about fundraising -
The NJSPCA is funded solely by donations, grants, bequests and fines levied. It receives no government funding or tax dollars.
Perhaps we should all chip in a couple of bucks so they can afford a nice ad campaign?
posted by zamboni at 11:20 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, but when something is used as justification for regulation you'd think that the justification would apply accross the board

You would only ever actually believe that if you were completely ignorant of the history of human law.

I do not think you actually believe that. I think you're disingenuously offering that reasoning, even though you do not believe it, because you happen to think this specific regulation is silly.


Wow, yikes, who pooped in your cornflakes?!? Honestly, I don't have a dog in the fight (bad pun intended) about if this regulation is excessive or not. I do think your justifications were pulled out of thin air and that one of them was not very valid given that it is pretty arbitrary, something I personally have to be cautious to avoid at work. If you think I was trying to be "shocking" or disengenuous because I have some sort of agenda based on my couple of comments then I suppose there is nothing I can say to change your mind, but for what it's worth, I have no agenda here either for or against this rule!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:26 AM on June 6, 2012


OK, let's say (the nigh mythical) Officer Colorblind dutifully writes them both $250 tickets. Which one grumbles and sends in the check, and which one decides to buy groceries for the family instead of pay the fine, because there isn't money for both? What happens to that person when they're pulled over driving to work on a suspended license? What happens to their job? What happens to their family?

By that logic we should get rid of all traffic laws.
posted by kmz at 12:11 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, let's say (the nigh mythical) Officer Colorblind dutifully writes them both $250 tickets...

I love the kind of hypotheticals that demonstrate that people are being discriminated against by using broad stereotypes.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:15 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh those poor policemen being stereotyped as racially profiling!

Human Rights Watch: Blacks have been arrested nationwide on drug charges at higher rates than whites for nearly three decades, even though they engage in drug offenses at comparable rates.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:27 PM on June 6, 2012


I love the kind of hypotheticals that demonstrate that people are being discriminated against by using broad stereotypes.

I hate to be the one to "link to actual data" on this thread again, but here ya go.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:28 PM on June 6, 2012


So that makes it OK to assume that because a young latino drives a '94 Mazda pickup that he's got money problems, or that a white woman in a new car with a small dog is a pain in the ass?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:30 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's fair to make a guess at the wealth status of a middle aged person driving a brand new car and a young person driving an 18 year old car. There is no suggestion everyone of that race is like that, and that pain in the ass thing doesn't seem to appear in the comment.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:35 PM on June 6, 2012


I hate to be the one to "link to actual data" on this thread again, but here ya go.

Yes, there are problems with racial profiling during traffic stops. Should we
  1. try to prevent racial profiling, or
  2. get rid of traffic laws?
posted by zamboni at 12:44 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are some laws we should eliminate, (simple possession of pot), but you have to judge that law by law.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:47 PM on June 6, 2012


Cop: [reading off citations to Gary Cooper] Indecent exposure, driving as so to endanger...
Gib: ...Driving with the load not properly tied down.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090103/quotes
posted by wenestvedt at 1:12 PM on June 6, 2012


Gotta keep those revenues up somehow. What with the decline of the mafia and all.
posted by Twang at 1:24 PM on June 6, 2012


True story: back in the late nineties my spouse and I used to religiously put our dogs in harnesses and attach the harnesses to the seatbelt just as required to avoid a fine in NJ. Then one day, barreling down the highway at 80mph (this must have been in the southeast, that was actually the speed limit), all of a sudden our Aussie/Chessie puppy (who is still around, blind, deaf, senile at 15.5 years of age) suddenly starts yelping as if he is being attacked and is in grave peril. My spouse nearly drove off the road from the suddenness and intensity of it. He pulled over, on the side of this highway where everyone ELSE is going at least ninety, because WTF our dog sounds like he is dying.

The little fucker had somehow managed to squirm around and get himself completely tangled in the harness and wedged into a corner of the seat. He was fine, just stupid and panicked.

We never belted our dogs again, they just laid in the backseat from then on, with no incidents.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:41 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thank GOD there's a small government conservative Governor in New Jersey- who knows what asinine laws might be passed otherwise?
posted by dave78981 at 3:27 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


one more reason to stay the shit out of New Jersey forever? Sure, I guess.
Put it with the others.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:48 PM on June 7, 2012


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