Overloading your car roof can be dangerous and costly

NEW HAVEN, Conn (WTNH) – If you are hitting the road this holiday weekend, and packing so much stuff you have to use the roof, there are some things to keep in mind. AAA says in one recent four year stretch, unsecured road debris led to around 39,000 injuries and over 500 deaths. Not only could something fall off a vehicle and hit another vehicle, but stuff falling into the road makes cars swerve and hit each other.

You wouldn’t think we would need to remind people about this, but then the New Hampshire State Police shared a photo this week of a Honda minivan with everything from a bike to a chest of drawers tied to the roof. If you are loading up your roof rack for a road trip, keep in mind that police will be watching.

“We’re going to look for any items that are moving around, that don’t seem secure. Anything shifting around,” said Trooper Wayne Petralito of the Connecticut State Police. “If it appear that the vehicle has so much weight that the shocks are loaded and it’s not sitting right then we know it’s overloaded.”

Those enclosed roof pods are the best, obviously. Nothing is going to fly out of there. If you do need to tie stuff down, use the proper tie downs. If you’re taking a long trip, stop and check the roof once in a while to make sure nothing has jostled loose. Troopers will also be keeping an eye on trailers, as well.

“If you’re using a trailer, make sure your trailer lights are working,” said. Trooper Petralito. “You check all that before you go. Make sure you use a safety chain in case there’s any trouble with the hitch.”

Every winter, we warn you about the dangers of ice flying off cars and trucks that have not been properly cleared. Just imagine if all the stuff on that New Hampshire minivan flew off at highway speed.

“It could be very dangerous. It could go through a windshield,” Petralito said. “If it lands on a roadway, another vehicle could kick it up in its tires and it’s going to hit your vehicle at a high velocity.”

You are liable for any damage that results from anything that falls off or out of your car, and even if there’s no damage, an unsecured load can get you a ticket with a fine of $117.


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