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Tips to maximize safety when packing luggage

May 28, 2010 7:08:10 PM PDT
Heading out on a family road trip usually means taking lots of luggage and gear. Consumer Specialist Ric Romero says you need to take extra care when packing your vehicle. Otherwise your trip could end in disaster.But with the help of Consumer Reports' auto engineers, we have some advice on how to pack your car safely.

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.

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

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

"In a crash, just imagine something like this being thrown at you at 30 miles an hour. It's going to really hurt or could be fatal," said Consumer Reports' David Champion, pointing out a water bottle.

Here's how you can pack your car safely.

"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," advised Champion.

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

"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," explained Champion.

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

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

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, and then hit the brakes suddenly to see if anything shifts.


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