A car crash in Changhua County’s Ershuei (二水) on Saturday that left the driver in serious condition and the driver’s daughter with minor injuries is suspected to have been caused by the erratic movements of a dog in the vehicle.
The accident is pending investigation, police said.
Nantou County Precinct police officer Chen Shu-chuan (陳淑娟) said a woman had been driving to the Ershuei Train Station in the morning with her daughter and a medium-sized Shiba Inu in the back of her car when the vehicle crashed into a telephone pole.
There was no evidence of the brakes being used before the compact car crashed head-on into the telephone pole, Chen said.
He added that judging from the way the hood of the car was completely wrecked and the base of the telephone pole had moved nearly 10cm, the force of the crash must have been immense.
The emergency medical crew found the driver unconscious in the driver’s seat, her 18-year-old daughter Chen Yu-tzu (陳于慈) still conscious with minor injuries in the back seat, and an evidently unharmed, but scared Shiba Inu sitting on the floor at the front passenger seat, Chen said.
The police are not ruling out that the dog may have been the primary cause of the crash, Chen Shu-chuan said, but police investigations are ongoing.
Chen Shu-chuan also said that the dog may have somehow jumped from the back seat to the front passenger seat, scaring the driver and causing her to lose control over the vehicle.
Lin Shih-hsien (林世賢), a veterinarian with Changhua City’s Changnan Veterinary Clinic, said that dogs are very sensitive and are prone to jumping around or barking due to outside stimuli.
Such actions, especially when the outside stimulus is shifting scenery outside a moving vehicle, is especially dangerous because the driver’s attention may be diverted from the road, Lin said.
Lin suggested that drivers allowing pets in their vehicles keep them in portable cages, or if the dog is too large for a cage, to keep the dog chained in the back.
Changhua County Police Department traffic division chief Liu Ming-chang (劉明彰) said that traffic regulations do not require pets in vehicles to be kept in cages.
However, Liu said that for safety, people should secure the dog in the rear instead of just holding it on one’s lap or allowing it freedom of movement.
Additional reporting by Chang Tsung-chiu and Chen hsin-jen