Lap Dog Ban Sought by Oregon Lawmakers

We know what drinking and driving does to impair one’s ability to drive. And people are finally learning that using their cell phones to text or call someone while they are driving is just about as dangerous. Now, man’s best friend is being considered a safety concern.

Oregon lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban driving with a dog on your lap. Senate Bill 160 was introduced by Senator Ginny Burdick of Portland’s 18th district at the beginning of this legislative session.

Is this legislation for legislation’s sake? Burdick says that her proposed law is not being spawned by a specific incident, just that after working on the cell phone legislation she became more aware of the distractions many people voluntarily bring about while driving.

According to Shelley Snow of ODOT Public Affairs, “There was one fatal crash over the past five years where ‘animal or insect inside vehicle’ was a factor. Keep in mind, we code up to three factors in crashes, so this is just one. Wet roads, alcohol, speed, etc. could be other factors.”

That may be where the problem resides in this proposed legislation. How do you measure the danger? Anecdotally, it seems to be a source of dangerous distraction, but Portland Police have said that they don’t keep track of accidents caused by dogs distracting drivers.

Last week, the bill was presented in the Senate Business Committee and Burdick will try to get a work session to move the bill to Senate Chamber before April 21.

In 2008, similar legislation was vetoed in California by Governor Schwarzenegger.