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Drivers could be fined £2,500 for incorrectly packing cars this Christmas, experts warn

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With more motorists than ever before taking to the roads to drive home for Christmas amidst rail strikes, motoring experts are warning drivers of laws that could land them with a £2,500 fine for incorrectly packing up their cars to drive home for Christmas.

The drive home for Christmas can be an exciting one, but with most vehicles having a boot full of presents in tow, there are even more hazards to contend with, so the experts at Scrap Car Comparison have shared the things that we should be considering to help make our journeys safer.

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Christmas is a time full of festive cheer, with people across the country organising to see family and friends to celebrate the season. However, there’s often a road trip involved in a lot of these plans, with many living at least a short drive away from their loved ones, if not much further afield. 

The drive home for Christmas can be an exciting one, with Christmas songs playing and the promise of good food and fun at the other end, but with it being winter and potentially having a boot full of presents in tow, there are even more hazards to contend with, and things that we should be considering to help make our journeys safe.

The motoring experts at Scrap Car Comparison are on hand to help and have put together some tips to help make sure that we all get home safely this Christmas.

  1. Sort Your Storage

With many people travelling to spend Christmas with friends and family, or on holiday in the UK, there’s likely to be a lot of luggage in the car. With winter clothes bulkier than summer, it’s right to assume that any packing might take up a bit more room than for a summer holiday – not to mention the addition of Christmas presents and tasty treats! There’s nothing worse than being cramped on a long journey, with luggage and essentials crammed into every space of the car, so it’s definitely worth planning ahead. It may seem excessive, but using a roof box is a great way to work around any storage issues, while keeping your belongings in tact – just make sure it’s safely fitted to your vehicle before heading off! 

Under Section 40A of the Road Traffic Act 1898, it’s an offence to use a vehicle if it involves a danger of injury to any person – which can include offences where loads on the vehicle aren’t correctly restrained, and can carry a maximum fine of £2,500 and three penalty points!

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  1. Spread The Weight

We’ve likely all experienced a great game of car tetris, where many minutes have been spent re-arranging various bags and suitcases to make sure everything fits in – but unsurprisingly, it really isn’t the best way to load a car. When packing your vehicle, it’s important to load it safely, to ensure that the arrangement of luggage doesn’t impact how you may drive and increase your risk of an accident. Aim to load the heaviest items first, and position them towards the bottom and middle of the vehicle, with any lighter items slotting in above and to the sides. Make sure the items are spread equally, and not all resting on one side of the vehicle too, as this could increase the chance of the car tipping in an accident, or veering to one side.

  1. Keep The Windows and Mirrors Clear

It’s important to make sure that you can see out of your windows and mirrors at all times, so it’s best to avoid stacking things too high in the car too. Luggage or gifts that are packed too high are likely to move around in the event of sudden braking, and could cause injuries that could easily be avoided.

  1. Plan For Emergencies

Although breakdowns are something that we never want to happen, they unfortunately do. Tyres are one of the more common causes of a breakdown, with flat tyres ruining many a journey. With this in mind, it’s important to think about how you can get to your spare tyre (if you have one!) while packing, to help avoid any stressful breakdowns becoming even worse! No one wants to be unloading gifts onto the hard shoulder.

  1. Check Your Tyre Pressures

It’s always important to check that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, but even more so when you’re carrying a heavy load. Generally, vehicles will provide a recommended pressure for tyres when the car is full or carrying a heavy weight, so make sure to double check these measurements before pumping up your tyres and hitting the road.

  1. Plan For Your Fuel Stops

Packing up a car with gifts and luggage will increase its weight significantly from that carried day-to-day, so it will likely have an impact on how efficiently your car runs. In the main part, your fuel efficiency is likely to be reduced when the car is full, so take this into account when planning your journey – it’s worth planning for fuel stops earlier, and also budgeting for the additional fuel costs that are likely to come from an extra top up or two

  1. Keep Your Presents Under Wraps

When carrying gifts in the car, it’s important to realise that they put you at a greater risk of having your vehicle broken into. If you need to stop at a service station for a quick snack break, refuel or bathroom stop, make sure they’re well hidden before leaving your vehicle – ideally, make sure they’re hidden when you first set off, as you never know who’s watching you hide them while in the car park. The boot is the best place to keep any presents, rather than hidden amongst other belongings on the back seat, or even on the parcel shelf. Remember to unpack them as quickly as possible when you arrive at your destination too.

Dan Gick, Managing Director at Scrap Car Comparison adds: “Getting out on the road at Christmas is always exciting, with the festive tunes and good cheer that comes with visiting friends and family sure to lift anyone’s spirits. However, with the additional loads that we’re likely to be carrying in our vehicles, it’s important to take our time and not rush the packing, as arranging luggage wrong in the vehicle can be hazardous in more ways than one. 

“We never want to get into accidents, but the reality is that winter driving is already more hazardous as a result of inclement weather, so it’s always best to take any steps we can to mitigate against any more potential problems. Although packing up the car and preparing for a road trip may not be a fun task, it’ll definitely pay off to ensure that you arrive safely at your destination and without any hiccups en route.”

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