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Moving to university – the dangers of overloading your car


Students moving to university face serious dangers with overloaded cars and risk penalties from fixed fines to prison sentences.

Experts at Quotezone.co.uk are warning students not to overload their cars when heading to university. The car insurance comparison experts are alerting drivers to help them avoid putting too much weight in their cars.

Every car has a limit of how much weight it can carry. Failing to comply with this limit could cause a serious hazard to the driver and other motorists on the road. 

The additional weight will make the vehicle harder to control and can impact tyres and suspension. 

Packing items above the seat line will impair vision, while heavy loads are likely to affect handling and increase stopping distances.

Overloading a car past its capacity is a punishable offence, with a fine of up to £300 and 3 penalty points.*

For more serious cases when a vehicle is loaded 30% or more above its recommended weight, motorists could receive a court summons. 

The most severe punishment possible would be a 2 year prison sentence if found guilty of dangerous driving under the Road Traffic Act 1988.**

Students planning to use their cars to move to university are being warned to follow the packing tips, seek the help of friends and family or rent a van to help them stay safe and within the law.

Greg Wilson CEO of Quotezone.co.uk says students will be excited to head to university but many will be unaware of the risks of trying to pack too much into one vehicle.

He said: “Young adults heading off to university have so much to think about as they move their life away from the home they have grown up in, some for the very first time.

“But the last thing they or their family want at this often stressful time is to be hit with points, a big fine or worse.

“Overloading a car can seriously impair the handling of vehicles and with increased stopping distances and rear and side visibility impaired, the dangers are very real.

“Most university trips require some form of motorway driving, often at higher speeds, and overloading significantly decreases vehicle performance, increasing the risk of accidents and putting drivers and other road users in danger.

“Over packing the vehicle can also invalidate the car insurance, leaving them unprotected should they need to make a claim.”

Here are Quotezone.co.uk’s top tips for heading off to uni:

1.Ensure a clear view

If the driver’s vision is obscured and they don’t have a clear view through the windows, they risk fines of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition – a driver must have clear visibility through all windows at all times.

2.Monitor responsiveness

Before heading off on a long journey with a packed car, it is important to check if handling is reduced in the car. Take a short test drive to see how responsive the vehicle is – for example if it is difficult to turn, stop and start.

3.Check suspension

Checking the suspension of the car is essentially monitoring how far away from the ground the body of the car is, and the shape of the wheel arches. If either of these look unusual, it may be a sign the car has been overloaded. 

4.Make sure items are secure

Loading lots of items into a vehicle can be dangerous in case they slide around or tip over when braking or turning, as well as being a dangerous distraction. To reduce the risks, ensure all items are securely packed. Consider wedging items into footwells and putting items into the boot so they aren’t loose. 

5.Pack the heaviest items at the bottom

Placing heavier items first is better for the stability of the car, with the lighter items on top. Not only is this easier, but it is also safer because having heavy items falling about could be extremely dangerous and distracting for the driver.

6.Invest in a roof box 

To save from overpacking a vehicle and obscuring vision, consider investing in a roof box.  This will save drivers from having to take multiple trips or risk dangerously overloading.

7.Avoid hard suitcases

Consider storing items in softer bags that can be squeezed into tighter spots and fill up less space. As well as being heavier, suitcases can be difficult to fit in cars, especially in smaller boots, so it’s good to swap them out for lighter bags that are less awkward. 

8.Check tyre pressure 

A fully loaded car full of university essentials will be heavy, so it is essential to check the tyre pressure before setting off. If carrying more weight than usual, drivers may need to put additional air into the tyres or it could negatively affect handling. 

Quotezone.co.uk can help young people save money on car insurance as well as contents insurance for their time at university.  If you live in Northern Ireland, Compareni.com can help. 




This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.

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