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Thousands of collisions occur every year due to objects falling from vehicles. Now the Institute of Advanced Motorists’ RoadSmart division has published some tips for securing a load correctly.

  • 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.
  • 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 for your make of car? The same ‘heavier lower/lighter higher’ rule applies, but don’t overload the roof box beyond the recommended weight – and amend your driving to take account of the higher centre of gravity.
  • Make sure bigger objects fit inside your car. The Highway Code says 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? Trying to drive with the boot or hatchback open also risks sucking fumes back into the vehicle, which can affect your ability to concentrate. Don’t risk being prosecuted for an insecure load or unsuitable vehicle.
  • Keep your driving area 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 make one trip to your destination, stacking objects all over the place can be dangerous. 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.
  • “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,” IAM Road Smart’s Head of Driving & Riding Standards, Richard Gladman, said. “Once your load is secure, take a quick test drive so you can feel what has changed. Once you’re 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.

    New guidance for drivers buying their first car

    The Motor Ombudsman has launched a new online guide, “#JustPassed”, to make car buying and servicing easier for new drivers.

    The handy, one-stop point of reference can now be downloaded from TheMotorOmbudsman.org.

    A YouGov poll of more than 1,500 licence holders commissioned by The Motor Ombudsman found that 54% of respondents had very limited or no knowledge at all when choosing which garage to buy their first car from. Similarly, 53% didn’t know where to get their vehicle serviced when they first started driving.

    Around one in two were unable to determine the criteria on which to base their opinion of the garage, with over half saying they were unsure which business offered the best value for the money they had to spend.

    Nearly two thirds of the drivers who were able to come to a decision about where to buy their car, or where to have it maintained, did so thanks to word of mouth recommendations from friends and family (61% and 63% respectively). Close to a third simply visited the garage that was nearest to them, while a quarter used online customer reviews and ratings.

    Of the individuals questioned, 47% said the price of the car and 33% said affordability were key influences on their choice of model. A vehicle that was the right size for their needs was important for 24% of respondents.

    “A large proportion of new drivers are having to make big financial decisions without the right information in front of them, specifically when it comes to what make and model to get, as well as where to buy the car and have it serviced,” Chief Ombudsman Bill Fennell said. “To help plug this gap, we have created a simple easy-to-use guide and a handy checklist to help consumers ask the right questions.”