Volvo study finds only 24% of drivers buckle their dogs in, half use no safety gear

In the aftermath of all the stories of airlines endangering and even killing pets, Volvo has conducted a study about pet safety in cars. What they found is discouraging but not surprising: only 24% of owners buckle their dogs in and almost half don’t own any dog safety gear for the car. This is a real concern because most people consider dogs part of the family. The fact that people are bringing them along on car rides shows that they value their companionship, but without basic safety measures our pets’ lives are at risk. Here’s more from People, which has the details on this study:

Titled “Volvo Reports: Dogs, Cars and the People Who Love Them,” this study first explores the undeniable bond an increasing number of individuals feel towards their pooches. In a poll of U.S. pet owners, 69% considered their dogs to be part of the family, with 23% going as far as saying they consider their canines to be children. In the same poll, 38% of dog owners said they do not go on vacations when their pups can’t join them.

This means lots of car travel for lots of dog owners, since air travel options for dogs can be limiting, especially larger canines. And while 94% of the pet parents Volvo Car USA polled said they felt protective of their pets, 84% admitted they don’t think enough is being done to safely protect pooches in cars. The numbers back up this belief.

Volvo Car USA found that while 97% of pet parents said they drove with their dogs, only 23% try to safely buckle their dogs in. Overall, 48% didn’t even own any dog safety driving gear and 41% let their dog ride in the front seat often, which is not a safe place for a pet.

[From People]

Volvo is trying to remedy this, and of course appeal to dog owners, by offering dog gates and a pet safety system as options on all their vehicles. My cousin lost her dachshund in a car accident a few years ago. Both she and her three boys were wearing seatbelts and were fine, but she was devastated that her dear dog passed from his injuries and still feels the loss. So many of us just put the dog in the car for a ride, but there’s much more we should do to make sure they’re safe. PetMD has a nice slideshow with options for securing your dog in the car. My parents have a little seatbelt attachment for their miniature schnauzer, it attaches on one end to her harness. Many reviewers on Amazon say these seat belts also help restrain bigger dogs who can pull and wiggle and make them less of a distraction. Here a link to two pet seatbelts for just $6.99. (It’s an affiliate link but I’m reporting this because I wanted to talk about dogs and post pictures of dogs!)





Photos via Pexels:, Tim Guow, Tina Nord, Will Wu. Photos via Flickr: Sean Chen, silkaphyllis, Ben, choking sun, Daniel Ramirez

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35 Responses to “Volvo study finds only 24% of drivers buckle their dogs in, half use no safety gear”

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  1. BearcatLawyer says:

    I crate my dogs. Ruff Tuff Kennels are amazing. One of my friends was driving her Volvo with a dog in a RTK crate when they were T-boned. The dog’s crate was actually on the side of the car that was hit. She walked away from the accident with only minor bruising from the airbags. The dog was totally fine.

  2. Llvanslyke says:

    Thank you for this article!

  3. Lightpurple says:

    Currently without a canine companion but I do put the seat belt around the cat carrier

  4. Anastasia says:

    I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately. I have three dogs who are my whole world–I do consider them children of sorts. They’re my babies. And we ride in the car a lot. I need to get them harnesses for the car. They already wear harnesses when we’re out and about, so all I need to do is get the safety strap that hooks to the backseat.

    Thanks for this reminder!

    • NeoCleo says:

      Hi Anastasia:

      If your dogs’ harnesses are not crash-rated, you may find yourself in the same situation as those who don’t use safety measures. There is a utility harness rated by Consumers called the Sleepypod Clickit Utility. It’s been crash tested using crash test dog dummies and is considered the best you can buy. I have to transport my dog to daycare on a daily basis and use it to strap him safely in the back seat. The front seat is not a good option as the air bag could injure or kill him.

    • Meeee says:

      I use the Easy Rider Car harness and that lets you feed the actual seat belt through it, to keep them snug against the seat. For longer road trips, my dog is in his travel kennel and I have straps that go around it, where I feed the seat belt through to secure it, as well.

      I can’t stand seeing dogs unsecured in the car. People don’t realize that in an accident, your dog is now a projectile that can be life threatening to not only them, but the passengers in the car, as well.

    • Chloeee says:

      Me too! My dog gets so excited in the car he kind chirps the whole way, restraining him could go either way and either overexcite him or calm him but I’ve been thinking of this so much lately. I’m going to just follow my gut since it’s been on my mind and this article popped up. Better safe than sorry!

  5. imqrious2 says:

    Our Goldendoodle always jumped into the back seat and would lay down, so it wasn’t hard to “train” him to wait to be buckled in. He’s fine with it. And we’re a lot happier knowing he’s safe. Makes me INSANE to see a dog sliding around the back of a car/truck (esp. a truck!) or see a pet sitting in the driver’s lap. God forbid there’s a crash, and that dog is squished! 😢😭

  6. Nicole (the Cdn One) says:

    Our cats hate the car but one of the first things I did was get them each a sleepypod – only crash tested carrier for small pets according to my research – and we belt the carrier in. Expensive, but so would be vet bills if they got injured and they are family so to us it justifies it.

    • OriginalLala says:

      I’ll have to look into these Sleepypods! we travel semi-regularly with our cats are they haaaaaate carriers (barfing, pooping, peeing etc), they like being harnessed into a seatbelt but I’ve been looking for other options that are safer but maybe wont cause them to barf and poop everywhere

      • Nicole (the Cdn One) says:

        It is awesome. Mine love to curl up in it in the house, so it seems to be a lot less stressful than a crate – they don’t just associate it with the car. Plus the interior is comfy and machine washable so it’s easy to keep clean.

  7. JoJo says:

    Thank you for your animal-related posts today, CB! :) (including the mention of Affleck/Garner going to the marine life prison in Hawaii.)

    We do have a seat belt for our Aussie, and I think it’s really important, although I have also wondered what would happen if we were in an accident where I was unable to get him out of the car if he was buckled in, but I guess there’s no easy solution for every type of accident.

  8. psl says:

    Omg, I LOVE THIS POST. My boy is ALWAYS seat belted in.
    The worst is when people drive with their dog on their LAP. Would you do that with a human child?
    What’s the difference?

  9. JenE says:

    Thank you for this article. My two basset hounds wear harnesses and are buckled into the back seat. I cringe when I see large dogs in the front seat where the air bag could kill them if it deployed.

  10. Zip says:

    Seatbelts often don’t help much either, especially for larger dogs. The safest option is to put them in a kennel in the trunk or secured by a seatbelt on the backseat. In car accidents dogs don’t only get hurt themselves but can also injure or kill other passengers when they are thrown around in or out of the car.

  11. Reginaphalange says:

    I had a client who was in an accident, the force of her car stopping sent her small dog hurtling at the windshield. It was like a bird flying into a window. Lights out.

  12. lucy2 says:

    Safer for the dogs in the event of an accident, but also safer in general – a pet loose in the car can be a real distraction or even a danger. We had a cat get out of their carrier once and he kept trying to sit by the pedals.

  13. TheNotoriousMCG says:

    Could you please edit to stress that people look for crash tested and rated restraint options? Many seat belt attachments that buckle in and just attach to the collar can be more harmful to a pet if there is an accident

    • psl says:

      True. I bought a new one when I adopted my Boy. It was an attachment one. He could climb into my seat! Not helpful at all. So I still use the harness I bought years ago for my Girl. I have had to slam on my brakes at times, he goes nowhere. It is by Four Paws and I love it.
      People who drive with their dogs on their lap suck. It’s even worse when you nicely warn them of the dangers, and they get snotty with you.

  14. Jay says:

    Now THIS is the quality content I come here for! (Referring specifically to the great pictures of doggos, as I don’t yet have a dog. But when I do, I now know that I need to make sure I have all this stuff.)

  15. Dani says:

    The only issue with the seatbelt attachments is that if you dog is big enough to step on the release button, they can detach themselves. This happened with my 50 lb dog on a cross-country trip recently.

  16. trishy says:

    It’s basic safety. Also, how distracted are you when your dog is sitting in your lap when you’re driving? One of my big pet peeves. “My precious has to go everywhere with me but I can’t be bothered to safely restrain him in the car and my attention is on him instead of the cars and drivers around me.” 🤬

  17. Meredith says:

    It kills me when I see animals on people’s laps or in the front seat. My husband was a police officer and had to go to a car accident where a dog in the car died. The dog was in the front seat passenger seat when the air bags deployed.

    Even when we take our cat to the vet, she’s in her carrier in the back seat with me.

  18. Nic says:

    We use a Pupsavers for our babies, best money I have ever spent.

  19. tealily says:

    I don’t ride with the dogs in the car much, but I don’t have any kind of equipment for them and I’ve never even tried to buckle them in. I feel like a dick now.

    How do I buckle them in? Do they need a special belt?

  20. C-Shell says:

    I have an array of harness/seatbelt arrangements for the car and pickup — Fergus (my Cavalier King Charles) looooooves car rides and road trips. His favorite, and what feels safest, is his upholstered car seat with the restraint(s). The bonus is that he can’t leap out the vehicle and chase everything, when I open a door.

    His company means the world to me, too. I’m glad we can go places together, and I don’t worry so much about his safety.

  21. brutalethyl says:

    I used to buckle my dogs in, but the buckles literally wore through the harnesses and made them useless. I do put our little dogs and cats in a carrier. I put that in the back seat, then back the front seat up until it’s against the carrier. If I can lean the seat back to make it more secure, I do that, too.

    If I can find some good harnesses, I’ll try again.

  22. Dissa says:

    I do have a seat belt rated harness AND a special seatbelt for my 20lb Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rescue … but I do get concerned that it isn’t enough.

    It’s nice to see car companies consider this.

    It would be nice if they considered the elderly or mobility challenged more as well .. since they pay out the arse for vehicles with ramps. $25000 regular vehicle versus $80,000 for a van with ramp and hand controls.

  23. Dita von Katzhausen says:

    I drove behind a pick up on the freeway last year, who had a doberman running free on the pick up’s bed, at one point, I kid you not, it jumped on the driver’s cabin. I managed to take a picture while driving and reported him to the sheriff’s office. I hope they took care of it. But in our neck of the woods, people think it is completely okay to have dogs in pick up beds.

  24. Mattie says:

    I remember getting a ticket for doing a California stop 😁 and the cop noticed that I didn’t have my seatbelt on but Toby my dog did so he gave me a brake for the seatbelt violation