Thousands of collisions occur every year on the UK’s main roads due to objects falling from vehicles. These needless incidents cause serious delays to other road users, as on average they take 20 minutes to deal with each time – often stopping traffic for items to be removed.
This week’s tips offer advice on securing a load to drivers and riders from IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman.
1.The heavier the lower, the lighter the higher. Pack the bigger and heavier things on the bottom as a base then put the smaller items around or on top of them.
2.A badly loaded vehicle may affect headlight alignment – adjust them to prevent dazzle. If you regularly have to pack too much in the back of the car why not invest in a good quality roof box designed for your make of car? The same ‘heavier lower/lighter higher’ rules apply but ensure you don’t overload the roof box beyond the recommended weight – amend your driving to take account of the higher center of gravity.
3.Make sure bigger objects fit inside your car. The Highway Code states that “you must secure your load and it must not stick out dangerously.” If you know you are purchasing a large item why not have it delivered as opposed to endangering your life and others’. Trying to drive with a boot or hatchback open also risks sucking fumes back into the vehicle which can affect your ability to concentrate. Don’t take a chance of being prosecuted for insecure load or unsuitable vehicle.
4.Keep the driving area within the vehicle clear. Drivers have been known to crash because of a loose can under the brake pedal – don’t risk it! As much as it is tempting to overload and make one trip to your destination, stacking objects all over the place can be very dangerous. Make sure you keep areas such as the parcel shelf and footwells clear. Loose items flying around the car operate as distractions and can also injure those in the car.
Richard said: “Overloaded vehicles can become easily unstable, difficult to steer or less able to stop safely due to uneven weight distribution and the forces needed to stop heavy vehicles. Once your load is secure take a quick test drive so you can feel what has changed. Once you are on the move observation and anticipation are even more important if your car is driving differently from normal. Remember to adjust your headlights if needed.