Degrees of Safety: danger of over-packed vehicles

18 September 2017

  • 61% of students said they worried about poor visibility due to car being over-packed
  • 41% of students are unable to see through their rear window due to over-packing
  • 27% said their passengers haven’t worn seatbelts due to a lack of room

As half a million students are off to university this month, Co-op Insurance is warning of the dangers of over-packing cars ahead of these journeys. The study conducted among UK students revealed that three quarters (77%) travel by car when moving into or out of their student home. Of these, two fifths (41%) say they disregard their rear-view window when packing up their vehicles meaning visibility is compromised.

Furthermore, a fifth (20%) block their side window visibility by over-packing their vehicle, a fifth (17%) strapped items to the top of the car without a roof rack, and a sixth (16%) were unable to properly close their boots because of the amount of luggage they crammed in.

Two thirds (61%) said their visibility was poor, a quarter (24%) worried items may fall off the roof or out of the boot, and a fifth (17%) couldn’t fully access the car controls.

In addition, when moving, over a quarter (27%) said the passengers in their vehicle didn’t wear seatbelts and a fifth (17%) explained that the driver of the vehicle didn't wear one either.

How students are compromising safety by over-packing:
- 41% say they disregard their rear-view window when packing up their vehicle
- 20% block their side window visibility by over-packing their vehicle
- 17% strapped items to the top of the car without a roof rack
- 16%  were unable to properly close their boots
- 27% said the passengers in their vehicle didn’t wear seatbelt
- 17% said that the driver of the vehicle didn't wear one either

The study also reveals that over half (54%) of students take two or more trips to move items to and from university and over two fifths (44%) say that they travel over 100 miles to get to their destination.

When looking into how students secure items in their vehicles when travelling to or from university, over two fifths (44%) said they cram items into their vehicles so they didn’t move and a fifth (21%) said they use the seat wells.

Top 10 most common items students take to and from university:
1. 78% - Clothes
2. 75% - Shoes  
3. 74% - Laptop  
4. 53% - Books  
5. 52% - Bedding and towels
6. 50% -Toiletries
7. 48% - Crockery / cooking equipment
8. 48% - Stationary
9. 48% - Food
10. 45% - Tablet / iPad

Steve Kerrigan, Head of Young Driver Insurance at Co-op Insurance commented:

“It’s concerning that 61% of students will venture to or from university in a vehicle where there’s poor visibility due to over-packing. Visibility when driving, particularly on motorways is absolutely critical and nothing should compromise this element of safety.

“Bedding, toiletries and food are among the most popular items that people pack, but these are good examples of items that can be bought once you’re unpacked and will free up extra space in the car. We’d advise parents and young drivers to devise a packing strategy before setting off, secure all items to the car and consider which items are critical and which can be bought closer to university.”

Top 10 tips for packing student cars safely:
1. Use vacuum storage bags for items that take a lot of room
2. Remove all items from the car that aren’t needed
3. Pack items in the order that they’re going to be needed
4. Use soft bags rather than rigid suitcases
5. Don’t cram so much in that the driver’s view is obstructed
6. Ensure there’s space for safety equipment
7. Keep larger/heavier items low down and pack smaller items around them
8. Consider roof boxes to carry large items
9. Keep the dash board clear in case it’s necessary to suddenly brake
10. Adjust tire pressures to allow for a heavier load

Mike Bristow, spokesperson for Brake, the road safety charity commented:

“Making the move to University can be an exciting time for young adults, especially those moving to new cities. As frustrating as moving can be, we would encourage all students to take their time when packing and ensure their any vehicle is loaded safely and correctly. It’s worth figuring out what needs to be taken urgently and what can be moved at a later date.”


Media Contacts

Emily Penkett
Press and Media Relations Manager
Mobile: 07738621201

Rosie Brierley
Press Officer
Follow us: @coopukpress

Notes to Editors

  • Study of 2000 UK students conducted by Atomik on behalf of Co-op Insurance  

About Co-op Insurance:

Co-op Insurance is part of Co-op Group, one of the world’s largest consumer co-ops, owned by millions of members. Alongside Co-op Insurance, we have the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, the UK’s number one funeral services provider, and a developing legal services business.   As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes.