London: If you thought only talking on the phone or texting while driving can get you distracted, then take this—you can't even drive safely when your pet is bouncing along in the backseat. According to an AAA study, if your pet is riding in the car while you're behind the wheel, chances are you are just as distracted as you would be if you were texting.

The study found that looking away from the road for only 2 seconds doubles your risk of being in a crash, and driving with a pet in the car is the third worst driving distraction, behind talking on the phone and texting.

The study found that 80 per cent of drivers admit to bringing their pets along for car rides, but less than a quarter keep them restrained, reports a news channel.

And two-thirds of the dog owners who were surveyed routinely drive while petting or playing with their pooches, sometimes even giving them food or water.

The study found that more than half of owners pet their dogs while driving, and one in five allowed their dogs to sit in their lap.

And while that may be a prescription for a car crash, there are very few states that have any laws to regulate driving with a pet in the car.

And most of those that do deal only with dogs and carry such lightweight fines that they are hardly a deterrent.

And the AAA study found that if a 10-pound dog is loose in a car and it crashes at 50 miles per hour, the pet could exert 500 pounds of pressure - endangering both the pet and anyone in its path.

Prior to the release of the AAA study, other incidents involving drivers being distracted by their pets increased public awareness of the problem, and legislation is starting to address it.

(Agencies)

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