Student drivers urged to lighten up

11.53 | 17 September 2019 |

Students driving to university this month are being encouraged not to overload their vehicle and avoid getting behind the wheel while tired.

A new survey, carried out by Highways England, suggests 60% of students would carry on driving, even if they may have overloaded their car. 

The data, published ahead of the start of Freshers season, also suggests that 70% of students have driven tired.

Highways England is encouraging students to make sure they have loaded their vehicle correctly and to carry out basic vehicle checks before setting off to college or university.

It says that drivers should be sure about their car’s official weight limit – and still be able to see in their mirrors when on the road.

Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said: “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.

“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 into 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 
  • Store small and light objects behind the front seat or in vacuum bags which fit neatly into the storage space under the seats

Kelly Rudge, Highways England traffic officer, said: “It’s really important that students check their vehicle before setting off and to make sure that they don’t overload them as it could cause serious danger to themselves and other motorists.

“Simple things like putting heavy loads in the boot and keeping loose items inside the car secured can all help to keep the occupants safe if the vehicle comes to a sudden stop. The last thing anyone wants is to be hit by an object that isn’t secure.”

Shelby Thomas, a third-year criminology and security studies student at Birmingham City University, said: “It’s really important that students check their car over before setting off and if they’re unsure of something then get a parent or experienced person to check the car.

“If anyone is tired, just get someone else to drive. It’s much easier to get a friend to take you where you need to go rather than risking your own life and others by getting behind the wheel while tired.”



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