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Packing the car: safety first!

MOTORING NEWS - Whether you're taking a short trip to the seaside for the long weekend, simply going from the airport to the hotel or are about to set off on a holiday, getting the car packed the right way is paramount to your safety on the road. Setting off with the entire family and a lot of baggage implies certain risks, not only for those in the car, but also for other road users.

Goodyear advises motorists to follow a few simple rules to ensure the car is packed securely and doesn't endanger your family or other road users.

Safety first!

Passenger safety and comfort comes above all else. Don't risk carrying passengers unrestrained due to large or awkward items that are in the way. Install child seats first before loading the car, as it may prove difficult to do so once the car is fully loaded.

"Last in, first out"
This saying provides a handy hint to packing that ensures you keep the items you may need during the journey close at hand and easy to retrieve. Be mindful of "must haves". Take enough food, drinks, nappies, medicine, and entertainment for your kids and other essential items to last you until your reach your destination.

Make sure everything is secure

A few simple rules can make all the difference:

Keep the area around the driver's feet clear. Loose items rolling around are distracting and potentially dangerous if they get caught under the driver's feet or the pedals - particularly in emergency braking situations.

Always pack large, heavier items at the bottom of the boot to ensure the centre of gravity stays as low as possible. Storing heavy items as far forward as possible and packing these tightly against the back of the boot ensures a better weight distribution. Avoid using the inside of the passenger area of the car for storing your luggage. Items can fly forward unexpectedly, injuring passengers.

"Tests of leading automotive clubs have illustrated how dangerous a simple glass bottle or kid's toy can become during an emergency braking situation," reminds Lize Hayward, Goodyear Group Public Relations Manager. "An item that seems to be light at first sight, accelerates enormously in the event of emergency braking - even at relatively low speeds, hitting front passengers with a multiple of its actual weight", says Hayward.

Make sure you can see
If you own a station wagon, avoid packing above the line of the back seats. Not only does this significantly hamper your view, it also heightens the possibility of items flying forward in case of an emergency braking manoeuvre. Consider using a roof rack or trailer if the car's boot is fully loaded. If you have to use the full height of your station wagon's boot, make sure you use a net or other built-in protection to avoid having items flying forward.

Plan for a puncture
If the car is not equipped with a special safety device and tyres, such as Goodyear's RunOnFlat tyres, consider the possibility of a puncture when packing the car. It's annoying and dangerous having to empty the entire boot of the car next to a busy road to get to the spare tyre.

If there is a puncture, take care of safety first. Get everyone in a safe place before taking care of the puncture or calling for help.

"RunOnFlat tyres are an enormous benefit to avoid such a situation," recommends Goodyear's Hayward. "Thanks to the RunOnFlat technology, drivers no longer have to make that dangerous stop at the side of the road to change a tyre. RunOnFlat tyres allow drivers to keep on driving after a puncture or total loss of tyre pressure, providing ample time to get home or to a nearby tyre dealership within a distance of 80km at a maximum speed of 80km/h - even on a fully deflated tyre."

Pack safely on the roof
Packing items on the roof requires a few extra considerations: extra height, extra weight and extra resistance.
Roof loads increase the drag on the car. The airflow will try to lift the front of a load. In the event of emergency braking, the load will tend to slide forward. Ideally, all items on the roof should only be stored in a securely attached roof box - respecting the weight restrictions of the car.

Travelling with pets
Pets should never be allowed to move freely through a moving car. Not only could the animal get hurt in case of an unexpected manoeuvre or an emergency braking situation, but the other passengers may also get hurt. Always secure pets using a safety harness or transport them in well-ventilated crates.

Driving with a fully loaded vehicle impacts on its manoeuvrability and takes getting used to. In addition, travelling with the entire family and loads of baggage means that you have more distractions, less visibility and a fully loaded vehicle that will require a longer stopping distance.
15:30 (GMT+2), Tue, 24 April 2012
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