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Putting on a seatbelt when we hop in the car is second nature, but how much thought are we giving to our loose objects within the vehicle?

As Newton’s first law of motion told us: “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.”

This law applies to everyone and everything that is inside your car in an accident. When a car stops suddenly in a crash, our seat belt holds us in place, but objects inside keep moving and can impact at up to 20 times the force of gravity.

All of sudden a 1 litre water bottle carries the force of a 20kg object.  Brief cases and heavy back packs can instantly turn into deadly weapons – severely increasing your risk of accident or even death.

Someone who knows the dangers first hand is the Managing Director of Safe Drive Training, Joel Neilsen. As Joel puts it in this real life account, things can go wrong very quickly when an accident occurs.

“When I was 17 and didn’t know any better I dared a mate of mine to drive his Volkswagen Kombi Van around this 90 degree bend as fast as he could.

About mid-corner both of us suddenly appreciated the danger we were in; when the high-centre of gravity, skinny tyres and loose road surface conspired against us and the Kombi pivoted, tipped and then rolled 3 times over landing back on its wheels.

Now we were really lucky, firstly because we were wearing our seatbelts which kept us inside the vehicle and secondly because we did not hit anything solid.

But in the crash all the loose objects which included an axe, a circular saw, a socket set, a pair of football boots, a golf club, assorted rubbish, a pair of dirty underwear which still disgusts me today and several burgers we had just picked up from a take-away store migrated to the roof, then the floor, then the roof, then the floor then the roof then the floor in the washing machine roll over process.

I got 2 black eyes from these loose objects. We got lucky.”

With this scary reminder firmly in our minds, what are some of the things drivers can do to protect themselves from serious injury in a crash?

Helpful Tips For Drivers

  • Stow things in your glove box or centre console so that they
    are easily accessible.
  • Place large or heavy items directly in the boot.
  • If you have a hatch back or station-wagon, invest in a cargo barrier and high quality nets or tie down straps.
  • Generally keep your car clutter free – if there is no reason to keep a particular item, get rid of it.

Fleet managers might find it particularly useful to print out or distibute this fact sheet from the NRSSP as an education piece for your drivers.