New Jersey lawmakers sure are spending considerable time thinking about drivers and driving.

Earlier this year, a state senator proposed a bill to fine slow drivers. Lawmakers also argued over whether to affix a red sticker on the license plates of younger drivers. Only last week, the state enacted a ban on smiling in driver's license photos.

Next up on their docket?

Assemblywoman Grace Spencer has proposed a law that would mandate that motorists either crate or buckle in their animals while driving. Violators would be subject to a $20 fine and possible animal cruelty charges. It's a matter of reducing distracting driving and pet safety, say advocates for the law.

"If that pet is roaming freely in the vehicle, that is a distraction for the driver, but it's also very unsafe for the pet itself," Motor Vehicle Department official Ray Martinez tells radio station New Jersey 101.5 FM.

The issue of how to properly transport animals surfaced earlier this year when officials from the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said drivers should face animal cruelty charges if they failed to restrain their dogs and cats. Currently, New Jersey law has no such penalty.

Their stance quickly brought a counter-response, including a proposal from another state lawmaker that allowed for unrestrained pets in cars without fears of animal cruelty charges.

How do New Jerseyans feel about the dual pieces of pending legislation?

A voter survey conducted by Farleigh Dickinson University found that 45 percent of registered voters support Spenser's law while 40 percent oppose it.

"These proposals have received both attention and ridicule," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Farleigh Dickinson. "But it seems like New Jersey voters are taking this seriously."

Regardless of the laws in your particular area, driving safely with your pets in the car should be a top priority both for your animals, yourself and other motorists. Here's a look at Pooch Protection 101: Tips On Keeping Your Pets Safe In The Car.

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