Is it true that it is illegal to drive with a gorilla in the backseat in Massachusetts?

If you have too much time on your hands, the Internet has plenty of content to keep you entertained. Like “X weird driving laws in the United States”. Most of us will at least chuckle learning that it is illegal to drive with a gorilla in the backseat in the state of Massachusetts. The same post will inform the bored reader that in Florida it is against the law to tie an elephant to a parking meter and you’ll certainly wonder why in Montana you must have a chaperone if you have sheep in your truck.

Who came up with these crazy laws? Well, no one. There is no specific law in Massachusetts preventing you from taking a gorilla for a ride. It’s just one of the many urban myths making the rounds on the Internet. Oddly enough, though, what they say is technically true and it is illegal to drive with a gorilla in the backseat.

The making of an urban myth

The gorilla law is so popular that even the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tried to get to the bottom of this story. An article on the Commonwealth’s official website explains that the urban myth was created by someone who purposely misread an existing law concerning the transport of animals in the state of Massachusetts. What the law really says is that:

No person shall transport an animal in the back of a motor vehicle in a space intended for a load on the vehicle on a public way unless such space is enclosed or has side and tail racks to a height of at least 46 inches extending vertically from the floor, the animal is cross tethered to the vehicle, the animal is protected by a secured container or cage or the animal is otherwise protected in a manner which will prevent the animal from being thrown or from falling or jumping from the vehicle.

A gorilla is definitely an animal, therefore, under the law, it doesn’t belong in the backseat and should be transported in a cage.

And let’s just add that gorillas are an endangered species and people are not allowed to keep such an animal as a pet anyway.

Driving with pets is a major cause of accidents

All jokes aside, if you have a regular pet, like a dog or a cat, you need to be careful when you drive with them in the backseat. Keep them restrained or have another adult take care of the animal. Even a normally quiet and well-adjusted dog can become agitated or uncomfortable during a ride. Here are the most distracting pet behaviors:

  • Pacing, whining, and seeking comfort from the driver
  • Jumping in the seat and barking
  • Trying to move to the front seat
  • Chewing or clawing on the upholstery
  • Being sick all over the seat
  • Blocking your view

If you’re alone and try to comfort the animal, chances are you take your eyes off the road. And your attention. This counts as distracted driving and you may be accused of negligence if there’s an accident.

How to prove a driver was distracted by their pet?

If you were recently injured in a crash and the other driver had a pet in the car, it is quite possible that they were distracted by the animal. This is not easy to prove, though. Seasoned Boston accident lawyers say you should try to gather some proof while at the scene.

You should talk to the other driver, ask about their pet, and maybe make them admit the dog was being fussy. Observe the animal’s behavior. Does it bark a lot or try to run? Ask the witnesses present whether they noticed something unusual in the other car in the moments before the crash.

You should also get a look at the other car. Is there some sort of animal carrier in the backseat? Any sign the dog was properly restrained? Do you see a mess in the back seat? Don’t hesitate to take a few pictures. Your lawyers can submit them to prove that the animal was distracting the driver and this is what probably led to the crash.

Have you been recently injured in an accident in the Boston area?

Don’t waste any time and contact a reliable attorney at the Neumann Law Group. Our attorneys have many years of experience in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Through our dedicated representation of car accident victims and their families, we will help you win the damages you are entitled to. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our toll-free number at 800-525-6386.

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