Drivers’ best friend?

A new study casts aspersions on the adage that man’s best friend is canine by highlighting the potential threat to driver safety posed by dogs if not properly handled.

Tens of thousands of car accidents are believed to be caused every year by unwieldy pets.

’An unrestrained pet can be hugely distracting — if he is seeking your attention, putting his face right in front of yours, starts chewing up the upholstery or is vomiting because he is carsick,’ Katherine Miller, director of applied science and research for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the Associated Press.

In 2009, distracted drivers were the cause of 5,474 deaths and 448,000 injuries in the US, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

‘Good pet owners will use a harness or carrier and secure their pets in the middle of the back seat,’ Miller said. ‘That keeps dogs from getting hurt or bouncing around and hurting others.

‘A pet that weighs 50 pounds, in a 35 mph collision, is projected forward like a cannonball with 1,500 pounds of force, and that can cause critical injuries to the folks in the front seat.’

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