Loading A Vehicle
We all know how important it is to wear a seat belt, but making sure your luggage is secure can be just as important for your safety. In the event of an accident, unsecured items will be thrown through the vehicle with a force many times their actual weight. Objects will shift whilst travelling, causing a distraction and making the car handle erratically, whilst a heavy load will mean steering and braking will be considerably different from a normal drive.
- When loading your car, place heavier items at the bottom to maintain a low centre of gravity. If your boot is only partially full, use straps or a cargo net to tie down luggage and stop it sliding around, or pack empty boxes to fill the gaps. This applies to items in the passenger seats too.
- Put small items in a box or bag to keep them secure. This will also make it easier to unpack in case of an emergency. Smaller objects can be stowed in rear foot wells and door pockets – these handy storage spaces are often under used.
- Make sure your rear view mirror still has a clear view. Don’t load your vehicle above the level of the parcel shelf. If you have excess luggage, use a roof rack or roof box, or consider hiring a larger vehicle.
- If you do use a roof rack, make sure it is properly attached and that any load is tightly secured at the front, back and sides. When driving at speed, the airflow can easily rip off poorly secured objects and cause a serious hazard to other road users. Be aware that placing heavy items on the roof will make it handle very differently and may even damage your car. Check your manual for the recommended weight limit.
- Different vehicles will have varying limits for the overall weight they can carry. This includes passengers and luggage. Check the handbook for weight limits and the recommended tyre pressures. Make sure you adjust the pressures back when you unload the vehicle.
- Reduce your speed. Be aware that stopping distances will be much further when your vehicle is loaded.
- Always consider your passenger’s safety first. Make sure child restraints are still properly fitted, and that items stowed in the cabin won’t cause discomfort, distraction or present a hazard during the journey. It’s better to travel more lightly or make two journeys than put your life and the lives of others at risk.
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