Why student drivers need to lighten the load to stay safe

student drivers packing for university

Highways England is highlighting the issue of students overloading their cars on their move to university. This, as freshers’ season gets into full swing. 

The government agency surveyed 1,400 students to discover their plans for the journey to uni. The results were revealing. Sixty percent of students would carry on driving even if they knew their car was overloaded. Likewise, 70 percent said that they’ve driven while tired.

The company is urging students to make sure their car is ready for the journey and to ensure they’re in a good state to drive. 

student drivers packing for university

“We want everyone to get to their destination safely and we can all play a part in that,” said Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England.

“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.”

Student drivers: a guide to packing your car for uni

student drivers packing for university

Here’s a brief guide on how to load your car for the journey to uni. We’d say the advice applies to everyone, not just students.

Pack according to weight

Pack the heavy stuff down low and the lighter stuff higher up. It helps the weight balance of the car, and means the heavy stuff will be more secure. It’ll also prevent your heavy things from damaging your more delicate posessions.

Secure the load

As best you can, using straps or even seatbelts, secure things you think may fly around, especially if they’ve some weight to them. You don’t want projectiles hurtling round your cabin.

‘Car Tetris’

Think of packing your car as a big game of Tetris, and you’ll pack efficiently and safely. Smaller stuff can go behind the front seats on the floor, secured by the folded rear seats. Flat heavy stuff should go low down. Boxes can be packed in together nice and tight if you do it right. Vacuum pack your soft stuff – it could save you a lot of space.

Pack and drive legally

Most important is to drive legally. Make sure your car isn’t overweight, that your mirrors aren’t obstructed, that it’s packed safely and that you’re properly insured.

student drivers packing for university

“It’s really important that students check their car over before setting off,” said Birmingham City University student Shelby Thomas, in support of Highways England.

“If they’re unsure of something then get a parent or experienced person to check the car. It’s important that it’s fit to drive.  

“I do worry about overloading the car but after speaking with Highways England traffic officer Kelly Rudge, I’m much more aware of how to do it safely and the dangers of not getting it right. Now, if I need to transport lots of items, I’ll check the handbook to make sure the weight is okay, or I’ll get someone experienced to tell me if I have put too much in the car. If I need to do more than one journey, I’d rather do that than cram it all into the car and risk causing a problem.”