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Driving with pets is still legal, but is it safe?

Maryland Delegate James Malone told the Sun he spotted a woman doing about 40 mph in the fast lane with four dogs in her lap. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON – The image of a dog hanging its head out of a moving car is as American as apple pie, but some states are reconsidering animal safety and banning pets from riding unrestrained.

Rhode Island and Tennessee have both proposed such initiatives, and Maryland appeared to be on board. Delegate James Malone was behind the effort until the State Senate killed the bill, reported the Baltimore Sun.

So while it remains legal to drive with critters in tow, AAA still warns that drivers should be extra careful when bringing their pets along for a ride.

A 2010 survey showed 31 percent of people behind the wheel admitted that having an animal loose in the car was a distraction. Five percent admitted to playing with pets while driving.

Malone told the Sun he spotted woman doing about 40 mph in the fast lane with four dogs in her lap.

“I think one of them was driving,” he said. “Four different dogs. I’m like, ‘Good grief.’ You just look at them and shake your head.”

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow Kate Ryan and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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