In addition, General Motors developed side curtain airbags primarily to protect vehicle occupants, but they’ve also discovered that with the huge numbers of dog owners who regularly travel with their dogs that these side curtain airbags also provide lifesaving protection for the canines as well in the event of a crash.
Almost all of the GM vehicles have side curtain airbags available, and they are available in the Chevy Volt, Equinox and Traverse that were on display at the 2012 New York Auto Show event. Bell also noted that the side curtain airbags in the Equinox and the Traverse implode for a longer duration than airbags in passenger cars, thus providing even more protection for passengers and pups.
Bell noted that vehicles like the three-row, eight-passenger Traverse “has really become the de facto replacement for a minivan in many people’s homes.”
Fold-flat seats make it easier to maneuver pets and crates. The Chevy Equinox, Traverse and Tahoe SUVs have optional power lift-gates to make pet access easier. Remote unlock can come in very handy when dogs are trying to climb into a vehicle and the driver is either fumbling for a key or has his hands full.
Vehicles like the Chevy Volt, and others in the same size category, have features that make them pet-friendly such as tinted rear glass, fold-down seats, built-in LATCH system and passive lock system. “When you’re near the car, the passive lock system recognizes it and automatically unlocks all the doors,” said Bell. “Push the button on the keyfob and the tailgate opens up and this allows you to get the dog into place a lot quicker and safer.”
2012 Chevrolet Equinox - NYAS pet dayEnlarge Photo
Recommendations to keep dogs safe in vehicles
Bell said that there are two basic recommendations for pet owners to keep their dogs safe in vehicles. First, and most important, is that dogs should always be properly restrained in the back seat of a car or the far back seat of an SUV. Never allow your dog to be in the front seat of any vehicle.
As for restraints, use an authorized harness that attaches to the In the worst case, if you don’t have a harness, at least attach the dog’s leash and/or collar to the seat belt to keep the dog secure.
Second, minimize distractions so that no one’s safety is compromised, not the driver, any passengers, or your dog (or dogs). This means being mindful not to have any food in the car that could cause Fido to dig around in the back seat, possibly looking for that hidden Cheerio between the cushions, or kids or other passengers frolicking with the pooch while the car is moving.
Also, don’t allow your dog to hang his or her head out the window. While it may be something doggie loves to do, it’s not safe. In an accident, serious injuries or death could occur, but there is also danger from rocks and other flying debris. There are special mesh screens that are available to fit over the window so that your dog can still smell the outdoor air while being prevented from putting his head out the window.
Finally, if you’re looking for a new vehicle that’s more pet-friendly, Chevy recommends that you search for one that is wide, tall, and slightly square at the back. Other pet-friendly vehicle requirements include plenty of cargo room and lots of cup holders to stow pet food and drink (and keep these items secure from your pooch’s reach).