A state legislator in Oregon has introduced a bill that would prohibit motorists from driving with a dog on their lap.
Violators would face a maximum fine of $250. State Senator Bill Hansell (R-Athena) introduced the legislation.
Hansell told the Washington Post the bill is intended to help curb another form of distracted driving. The idea for the legislation stems from a conversation he had with a constituent who complained about seeing another driver more preoccupied with a canine passenger than with the road ahead.
Hansell noted, however, he hadn’t found any specific research about the dangers associated with driving with a dog on one’s lap.
But common sense raises concerns about the practice. And a widely covered sports news story in 2016 also raised questions.
Last year, Ingrid Williams — the 44-year-old wife of basketball coach Monty Williams — died after being in a head-on collision in Oklahoma City. (At the time, her husband was working as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s now vice president of basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs.) Susannah Donaldson, the other driver involved in the head-on crash, had lost control of her speeding SUV and crossed over the center lane. Donaldson’s dog was on her lap at the time of the crash, according to police reports. Both Donaldson and her dog died in the collision. Subsequent lab reports found methamphetamine in Donaldson’s system as well, according to a report from the Times Picayune.
Ingrid Williams was the mother of five children, three of whom suffered injuries in the crash.