In an accident, or when the driver slams on the brakes to avoid one, unrestrained pets can be hurt or killed.
An often-cited study by the pet safety organization Paws to Click estimates 30,000 pets are killed each year while riding in a vehicle.
A 2010 survey of 1,000 pet owners by AAA found a third let animals ride in a vehicle unrestrained while 21 percent admitted to letting an animal sit on their lap while they drove.
Safest cars for pets
Automotive site Edmunds.com recently produced a list of what it says are the safest vehicles for pets. It found 10 SUV's, minivans, hatchbacks and wagons that offer the most safety and comfort for animals.
"Not only are these vehicles safe for pets, but they also offer a certain measure of convenience for pet owners," said Edmunds.com Automotive Content Editor Warren Clarke. "And with each one of these vehicles starting at under $35,000, owners won't have to chase their own tails to make ends meet."
On the list are:
- Dodge Journey — Available features include an in-dash cooler that can be used to store beverages, medicine or pet food.
- Ford Flex — The crossover offers ample legroom and wide door openings for your pet's easy ingress and egress.
- GMC Acadia — The Acadia's tri-zone climate control helps monitor temperature in the rear of the vehicle, thus ensuring that pets secured in back aren't exposed to extreme heat
- Hyundai Tucson — This Hyundai offers privacy glass that helps block the strong rays of the sun.
- Jeep Liberty — The Jeep brand offers specialized pet travel gear, including crates, carriers and a ramp.
- Kia Soul — The Soul comes standard with side curtain airbags that can keep both two-legged and four-legged passengers safe in the event of a collision.
- Mazda 5 — The Mazda 5 has tethers and anchors in both the second and third rows — helpful since pet safety seats need to be secured in the same way as a child's seat.
- Mitsubishi Outlander — The SUV also boasts fold-flat seating and stowable third-row seats — both of which increase the amount of room available for larger pets.
- Subaru Tribeca — Pet owners will appreciate the Tribeca's five-star crash test scores, steering-wheel-mounted auxiliary controls and rear back-up camera.
- Volvo XC70 — The XC70 is available with a Volvo-designed pet barrier, created to remain intact during a collision.