For students starting university this term, the last thing on their mind is probably driver safety.
But the roads before Freshers Week are increasingly filled with students moving their worldly possessions across the country - usually in heavily-laden, small, second-hand cars, raising a number of potential risks; fatigue, view blocking and driving on unfamiliar roads.
The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists ) has a few tips for those travelling to university this week on how to load all their clothes, books, stereos, TV’s and food, and allow students to kick-start their uni life safely:
• Make sure belongings are securely packed bearing in mind, drivers can face prosecution for travelling with an ‘unsecure load’. More importantly, loose objects can be distracting and if the driver needs to brake sharply, unsecured items could fly forward and hit those sitting in front.
• Loading a car until it’s ready to burst can obstruct the already dangerous ‘blind spot’ view further, making the driver more vulnerable when changing lanes. Loads should be made as small as possible and positioned for a clear view. Students should take essentials on the first trip and ask family to bring more when they visit.
• A long drive can lead to fatigue, so drivers should get plenty of rest beforehand. For the journey, comfortable, loose clothing should be worn, the driving seat should be adjusted to a safe upright position and the heating/air-conditioning set to a cool – not cold – temperature, regular breaks should be taken at least every two hours and driving at night should be avoided.
• Having a full car will use more fuel; keep an eye on the fuel level to ensure it doesn’t run out.
• Check tyre pressures before setting off. Tyres on a full and heavy car usually require higher pressure. The right pressures prevent unnecessary wear, excess fuel consumption and potentially dangerous blow outs.
• Finally, driving on unfamiliar roads can be unnerving. Sat navs can help and enable the driver to re-route quickly and relatively easily, however, they can be expensive so it is best to plan the journey before hitting the road.
University life is fantastic; students should make sure theirs isn’t postponed by keeping their car safely loaded while driving there.