Our pets are a big part of our families and it's important to remember their safety when we're on the road. Cars.com’s Matt Schmitz and Jennifer Burklow go over pet-travel best practices in this week’s segment of Driving Smart.

Forty‑six million U.S. households are home to an estimated 78 million dogs, and nearly 60 percent of us report driving with our dog in the car at least once month.

And while some 83 percent of dog owners agree that an unrestrained dog is dangerous, only 16 percent use some type of pet restraint.

What are the dangers of driving with an unrestrained animal in the car?

There are a few. An unrestrained pet can get underneath the driver’s feet near the gas and brake pedals or block the driver’s view of the road, potentially causing an accident.

If the windows are open, a pet can jump out, possibly causing an accident or injuring itself. And if you’re in an accident, an unrestrained pet can fly through a window or escape when emergency personnel arrive, endangering themselves and others on the road.

What are some of the products out there to make driving with your pet safer for everyone?

There are two types of pet travel products: those that keep a pet from being a distraction, and those that restrain a pet and protect it in the event of a crash.

Metal crates and tethers are examples of products that will restrain a pet but do little else. What owners should look for are crash‑tested crates, pet carriers, harnesses and cars seats; these will restrain and protect pets.

Finally, a pet should never ride in the front seat, restrained or unrestrained. Just as with young children, pets are in danger of being harmed if the airbag deploys.