Road Trip Dangers

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Heading out on a family road trip usually means taking lots of luggage and gear. But Consumer Reports says you also need to take extra care-when packing your vehicle. Otherwise your trip could end in disaster.

It was an unsecured laptop that most likely killed Heather Storey. When her car was hit by a tow truck in 2009, Heather's laptop computer turned into a deadly projectile, striking her in the head and neck.

Marilyn Storey, Heather's mother says, "It's been hard since she's been gone. We really miss her."

Consumer Reports David Champion says loose objects in a car can pose a serious danger.

Champion says, "In a crash, just imagine something being thrown at you at 30 miles an hour. It's going to really hurt or could be fatal."

Here's how you can pack your car safely.

Champion says, "Anything heavy that might become a projectile in a car should be actually stowed underneath or strapped down. With heavy objects, you need to put them as far forward as you can and then strap them down."

Once items are secured, place softer objects on top. And you should avoid packing anything on the roof of an SUV.

Champion says, "SUVs have a higher center of gravity than a sedan. If you load anything on the roof of an SUV, you actually raise the center of gravity higher, making it more likely to roll over in a crash."

Also check how much weight your vehicle can carry safely. For example, the Honda Element isn't supposed to carry more than 675 pounds.

Champion says, "You take three buddies fishing, you better not catch anything because that 675 pounds is likely to be just the four adults."

While organizing your car's contents can take some time, it can be the difference between life and death.

To find out how much weight your vehicle can carry, check the owner's manual or look for a sticker inside the front door.

Consumer Reports says once you're done packing, it's a good idea to do a test right in your driveway.

Start up slowly, then hit the brakes suddenly to see if anything shifts.

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