This month millions of parents will be cramming their cars with books, bedding and tins of baked beans to take their kids to university.
Eight in ten of the 2.34 million students relocate an average of 91 miles from home, meaning an estimated 186,124,666 miles are clocked up at the start of the new academic year – the distance to the moon and back 390 times.
The mass migration coincides with when the number of serious accidents on UK roads are at some of the highest for the year, with October and September ranking third and fourth worst months for fatalities and serious accidents in the UK.
While parents show their devotion by driving sons and daughters, Continental Tyres are playing their part following up their Vision Zero initiative with a new STUDENTS guide to ensure over a million extra road trips are safe and stress-free.
The handy checklist of top tips has STUDENTS in mind:
Ensure that your sight is not blocked by luggage piled up so high your view is impaired, although it is not illegal (providing you have two fully working mirrors) it can make driving more stressful which will impede concentration.
Also, items not secured may fly forward when braking and injure you or passengers – avoid packing your belongings above the height of the headrests and make sure they are secure.
It is recommended that you check your tyres at least once a month, and before setting off on any long journeys. This is particularly important when carrying heavy loads as your tyres will have an alternative optimum air pressure which is different to everyday driving. You can find this in your car’s manual. Under inflated tyres increase chances of tyre blowouts, and increase stopping distances and fuel consumption.
You should also check the tyres over to ensure that they meet the minimum required tread depth. It is easy to check this with a 20p piece – if the outer band of the coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit. Worn tyres can affect the vehicle’s handling and your safety so it’s essential to check regularly.
If the student is taking a car to university, make sure they update their details with the DVLA even if the change of address is temporary. Students are one of the main culprits for not updating records and could be at risk of invalidating their insurance and receiving a £1,000 fine.
When loading the car, you need to keep in mind how best to distribute the weight evenly. Heavier items should be stored in the centre of the car, while taller items need to be placed towards the back. When the weight is evenly distributed all tyres have an equal grip allowing even breaking, better handling and shorter stopping distance.
Though it might be to consider exams it is still vital to ‘examine’ the levels of oil, coolant and windscreen wash. If any are low top these up before you set off on your journey.
Overloading your car could invalidate your insurance if it exceeds the vehicle’s weight limit. You could also be fined £300 and get three points on your license too.
Excess weight creates increased strain on tyres, suspension and brakes. Plus if you are involved in an accident, you could be uninsured and liable to pay the full costs of all damage caused.
The handling of the car can change dramatically depending on how heavy the car is and the weather. You may find that when the car is fuller it can create difficulties when tackling corners or even needing to over steer on straight roads.
Finally, and vitally be aware of the impact of the weather, road conditions and different weight in the car on stopping distances. The time to decelerate and the overall stopping distance will be longer than usual, meaning you need to adjust your driving. Consider leaving extra room between you and the car in front to avoid braking sharply and brake earlier.
After all that, relax and have a break before the return journey and then contemplate retrieving your pride and joy for the Christmas holiday!
Mark Griffiths, head of safety at Continental Tyres commented: “For several years we have worked to deliver our 'Vision Zero', seeking an accident-free future. This latest addition to the campaign offers guidance so that parents can have confidence when making a major milestone journey. It also establishes good habits around road safety as their children become more independent and become drivers themselves.”