State Politics

Should driving with an animal in your lap be illegal? NC legislator files bill

A bill filed in the N.C. House would make it illegal to drive a car with a live animal in your lap.
A bill filed in the N.C. House would make it illegal to drive a car with a live animal in your lap.

While many distracted driving accidents are blamed on cell phone use, one state legislator wants to take aim at another source of potential distraction: Pets.

Filed Wednesday, House Bill 73 would impose a $100 fine on anyone caught driving with a live animal in their lap.

“The General Assembly finds that the operation of a motor vehicle by a person holding a live animal in the person's lap must be prohibited as it is a distraction that endangers the safety of the driver, any passengers in the vehicle, others traveling in the same vicinity, and the animal,” says the bill, sponsored by Rep. Garland Pierce, a Democrat from Scotland County.

The bill wouldn’t restrict pets from riding in other parts of a vehicle.

Pierce said one of his constituents suggested the bill. “It’s a highway safety issue when you think about it,” he said. “I know people care about their animals, but it’s just a common sense thing. They need to be considerate of the safety of the animal. The animal could get spooked and jump out.”

A quick internet search found multiple incidents of fatal accidents involving a driver who had a dog in their lap at the time.

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