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Pack Up and Hit the Highway

Pack Up and Hit the Highway

By Jennifer LeClaire

June 04, 2009

“Driving SUVs like ordinary cars invites disaster. Awareness of SUV safety – especially stopping rollovers – can mean survival to countless Americans,” says Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. “Smart drivers can save lives with some simple steps: avoid speeding, sudden maneuvers, and overloading.”

The SUV Safety Campaign reports that the number of occupants, as well as the weight and distribution of the cargo, raises an SUV’s center of gravity and increases the risk of rollover.

Loading for security

Regardless of the type of vehicle you are driving, experts recommend securing and bracing all items to keep them from moving around during travel. Even lightweight items like a box of crackers can be deadly in a wreck because a sudden stop can send the item flying with a force similar to a brick.

Secure as much as possible in the trunk or cargo area instead of stacking your stuff up so high in the backseat that you can’t see through the rearview mirror. Instead of blazing a trail back to campus, ride at moderate speeds when hauling large loads, and consult the owner’s manual to determine what the safe maximum load is.

Pack the night before so you have time to weed out unnecessary items, remember what you’re forgetting and secure everything properly for the road ahead.

Prevent auto damage

Chris Poole, West Coast editor, Consumer Guide Automotive, says savvy travelers consult their owner’s manual to find out how much weight the vehicle can bear.

“Your vehicle handles differently when it is loaded down in the rear. It takes longer to stop the vehicle and your headlights will point up too high at night,” Poole says. “If the vehicle looks tail heavy, then you may be in danger of driving with too much weight, which can damage your shock absorbers, springs and tires.”

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