Seven out of 10 students have driven while tired and six out of 10 would carry on driving with an overloaded car, according to new research by Highways England.

With those findings in mind, and with Freshers’ season underway, Highways England is reminding students to avoid driving tired and to load their vehicle correctly.

“We want everyone to get to their destination safely and we can all play a part in that. We know that this is an incredibly exciting time for students with many leaving home for the first time,” said Richard Leonard, Head of Road Safety at Highways England. “Our traffic officers are there to help get things moving if there’s a problem. But we’d urge all students to make sure they load their car correctly before setting off as they could be endangering themselves and other road users.

Highways England’s advice for loading vehicles correctly includes:

  • Place heavy luggage on the boot floor, directly behind the rear seat backrest so that it can’t move or fall over in to the free space
  • Put light luggage on top of the large cases and cover it with a blanket and secure it all with a strap otherwise loose objects can turn into dangerous projectiles, especially if the luggage exceeds the height of the rear seat
  • Heavy luggage can be safely stored in the space between the front and rear seats
  • Store small and light objects that you do not necessarily need while driving behind the front seat or in vacuum bags which fit neatly into the storage space under the seats
  • Put anything particularly heavy in the boot and not unrestrained on the back seat and secure the load if carrying anything externally on the car e.g. a roof box or bike
  • Drivers should still be able to see in their mirrors when driving
  • If people aren’t sure about the car’s official weight limit they should check their handbook. If they feel they are close to the limit they can go to a weighbridge to check
  • Drivers should make sure they have the right insurance, especially if using other people’s vehicles and are sharing the driving or towing a trailer