Students moving to university this month face serious dangers with overloaded cars and risk penalties from fixed fines to prison sentences.
Experts at Quotezone.co.uk warn students not to overload their cars when heading to university ahead of freshers week.
Car insurance comparison experts alert drivers to help them avoid putting too much weight on their cars.
Every car has a limit on how much weight it can carry. Failing to comply with this limit could cause a severe hazard to the driver and other motorists on the road.
The additional weight will make the vehicle harder to control and can impact tyres and suspension.
Packing items above the seat line will impair vision, while heavy loads will likely affect handling and increase stopping distances.
Overloading a car past its capacity is punishable with fines of up to £300 and 3 penalty points.
For more serious cases, motorists could receive a court summons when a vehicle is loaded 30% or more above its recommended weight.
The most severe punishment possible would be a 2-year prison sentence if found guilty of dangerous driving under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Students planning to use their cars to move to university next week are being advised to follow the recommended packing tips, seek the help of friends and family or rent a van to help them stay safe and within the law.
He said: “Young adults heading off to university have so much to think about as they move their life away from the home they grew up in, some for the first time.
“But the last thing they or their family wants at this often stressful time is to be hit with points, a hefty fine or worse.
“Overloading a car can seriously impair the handling of vehicles, and with increased stopping distances and rear and side visibility impaired, the dangers are genuine.
“Most university trips require some form of motorway driving, often at higher speeds, and overloading significantly decreases vehicle performance, increasing the risk of accidents and putting drivers and other road users in danger.
“Overpacking the vehicle can also invalidate the car insurance, leaving them unprotected should they need to make a claim.”
Here are Quotezone.co.uk’s top tips before heading off to uni:
1. Ensure a Clear View
If the driver’s vision is obscured and they don’t have a clear view through the windows, they risk fines of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition – a driver must have clear visibility through all windows.
2. Monitor Responsiveness
Before heading off on a long journey with a packed car, it is essential to check if handling is reduced in the car. Take a short test drive to see how responsive the vehicle is – for example, if it is difficult to turn, stop and start.
3. Check Suspension
Checking the car’s suspension is monitoring how far away from the ground the body is and the shape of the wheel arches. If either of these looks different compared to usual, it is a sign the car has been overloaded.
4. Make Sure Items Are Secure
Loading lots of items into a vehicle can be dangerous in case they slide around or tip over when braking or turning, as well as being a dangerous distraction. To reduce the risks, ensure all items are securely packed. Consider wedging items into footwells and putting things into the boot so they aren’t loose.
5. Pack the Heaviest Items at the Bottom
Placing heavier items first is better for the car’s stability, with the lighter items on top. Not only is this more accessible, but it is also safer because having heavy items falling about could be extremely dangerous and distracting for the driver.
6. Invest in a Roof Box
Consider investing in a roof box to prevent overpacking a vehicle and obscuring vision. This will keep drivers from taking multiple trips or risk dangerously overloading.
7. Avoid Hard Suitcases
Consider storing items in softer bags that can be squeezed into tighter spots and fill up less space. As well as being heavier, suitcases can be difficult to fit in cars, especially in smaller boots, so swapping them out for lighter, less awkward bags is good.
8. Check Tyre Pressure
A fully loaded car full of university essentials will be heavy, so checking the tyre pressure before setting off is essential. If carrying more weight than usual, drivers may need to put additional air into the tyres, which could negatively affect handling.
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