Along with texting or talking on a cell phone, dogs left unrestrained inside a moving vehicle are a frequent distraction, a new study by the American Automobile Association warns.

The survey found that 55 percent of dog owners admit that they pet their pooches while driving, and 21 percent said they have held their pet in their lap. In addition, 7 percent of the drivers polled say they have fed or given water to their dogs while behind the wheel.

There are no state laws requiring restrained pets, but police can ticket drivers for having an obstructed view of the road or being unable to access the steering wheel.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 6,000 people died in crashes involving distracted or inattentive drivers in 2008, and more than 500,000 were injured.