Car packing tipsThis is the prime season for road trips, which many people feel are the most affordable vacation option available. They also provide unsurpassed views of the countryside and the ability to slow down and customize the trip as desired.
By: Staff, RiverTown Multimedia
Packing the car for a road trip can be complicated. Although the goal may be to cram as much as possible into the car and get on the road quickly, part of the safety plan for this year’s adventure should include packing properly to avoid injury.
Americans and Canadians combined drive trillions of miles in any given year. Although it is difficult to make a direct comparison between how many people choose driving as opposed to flying, when comparing data from the Federal Highway Administration and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, for every mile Americans flew they drove about six more in 2011. With so many miles clocked on the road, it is essential to make the experience as safe as possible — and that means properly securing belongings in a vehicle before getting on the road.
In 2009, a laptop computer became a projectile that killed its owner. Heather Storey of Surrey, British Columbia, was driving to work when her vehicle was hit by a tow truck. Her laptop was propelled at such a force that it caused a deadly injury to her head.
Unsecured or improperly packed items in a car or truck have the potential to cause serious injury when on the road or, at the very least, may obscure visibility when driving, says Consumer Reports. The organization and others offer drivers a series of tips that can help make travel safer.
- Adjust tire pressure prior to travel. Consult the owners manual to determine the proper tire pressure when the vehicle is carrying a full load. This will not only help alleviate unnecessary wear and tear on the tires, but also can help to prevent a tire blow-out.
- Know the car’s limits. It also is important to stay below the maximum permitted weight or maximum load capacity for the car or truck. Consumer Reports says that the capacity for small SUVs can span from 825 pounds to 1,155 pounds. Midsize SUVs may carry anywhere from 900 pounds to 1,405 pounds. Minivan capacities can vary significantly as well. The load capacity is specified in the owner’s manual.
- Store the heaviest items at the lowest, most central part of the vehicle. This helps reduce effects on handling that can lead to problems with steering or braking. Drivers should keep the overall center of gravity lower to help reduce the risk of rollover.
- Make sure everything is secured in the car or truck. Use crates or boxes to house smaller items. Use straps or rope to tie down anything loaded in the back of a truck or SUV to the vehicle’s cargo anchors. Load as much as you can into a car’s trunk to avoid having loose items rolling around inside the passenger area.
- Keep a clear view of mirrors and the rear of the vehicle. Do not pack any items higher than the level of the rear seats. Not only can these items fly forward in the event of sharp braking or a crash, but they also may obscure the driver’s view of the road.
- Invest in a roof rack or cargo box. Only place light items on the roof of the car so you can free up interior space. Secure roof items tightly, as they will be caught by the updraft while driving and you do not want to send them airborne and onto the roadway. Also, if you do use the roof for storage, be aware of how much taller the items will make your vehicle so you know if you can safely drive beneath underpasses.
- Make sure passengers can be seated safely. Packing a car doesn’t always mean being able to fit suitcases and belongings. It also means ensuring passengers can ride safely. Do not seat more passengers than can be restrained by the seat belts in the car. If there is not enough room, it is safer in the long run to take two cars.
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