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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 05:18 GMT 06:18 UK
Don't take the kitchen sink
Loading your car
Don't try to pack too much in (picture courtesy Auto Express)
With the long easter holiday fast approaching, many of us will be catching up on some DIY jobs around the house.

But as we set off in search of a new sofa, a flat packed wardrobe or specimen shrub, the AA is warning drivers not to overload their cars.

Its research suggests that 21% of drivers admit to driving with an item poking out of the sunroof, window or boot.

And it's warning that even a small tin of paint can become a dangerous projectile in a collision.

  • We found out how to safely load your car with the help of the AA on Breakfast this morning

  • With the help of the AA Motoring Trust, we've put together a common sense guide to safely loading your car on a trip to a DIY superstore or garden centre - see below for more details

    Modern day furnishing superstores often keep their costs low by letting customers select their own furniture items.

    Having made your selection in the showroom, it can be a little tricky to assess how big the item will be when it's packaged.

    The AA says that 15% of drivers it surveyed admit to over loading their car to the point of obstructing their vision.

    And it also discovered that passengers were being put at risk from objects placed on seats - another 15% of drivers surveyed admitted to this.

    What can you do to make sure your car is loaded safely?

    The AA Motoring Trust has come up with the following, commonsense advice for loading your car:

  • Prioritise Be realistic about what you can fit into the space. Decide which items are the most important when you're shopping, rather than when you get to your car

  • Stay safe Never place heavy items like paint tins high up in the back or elsewhere in the cabin - small objects can become dangerous projectiles in the event of a crash

  • Location Heavy items like pot plants or furniture in the boot must be put hard up against the rear seatbacks to make sure the weight is distributed across the back axle

  • Plan ahead Even with a large boot, you can find yourself running out of space if you don't plan carefully, so put the biggest purchases at the bottom and place smaller items in the space around them

  • Tyre pressures Always check that tyre pressures are correctly adjusted in line with the manufacturer's handbook before setting off - especially when carrying a heavy load

  • Drive defensively Your car's handling and performance will be affected by any load, so take care on the roads, especially while braking as slowing down may take longer than anticipated

  • Insure yourself Certain heavy or unwieldy loads may invalidate your insurance policy - so make sure you check the small print before strapping that chest of drawers to your roof rack

  • See and be seen Some protruding loads may mean you have to fit extra visible signs on your car - for example if you¿re transporting timber on your roof rack. Always ask an expert before you set off

    Finally, you should always refer to your vehicle's manual for the correct information about maximum loads, fitting a roof rack and safe tyre pressures.

    And you should also take special care when attaching a trailer to your vehicle.

    How to load your car safely
    Follow our guide

    BBC Breakfast


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